SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Iowa state legislators have been put in a unique situation trying to approve something that impacts a decade of politics in just a few weeks.
In a normal year, redistricting of Iowa’s congressional and legislative maps may have been completed months ago, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the 2020 census numbers, they’ve been dealt a tough hand in trying to get the maps drawn in time for a state constitutional deadline of September 1st.
“It’s a decidedly slow process which has never been a problem before because we’ve not faced the kind of situation that we have this year with regard to the timeframe on it,” said Woodbury County Republican Party Chair Bob Henderson.
The Legislative Services Agency is given the task every decade to draw the maps after the census data is released, but they already announced they won’t be done drawing lines by that looming deadline meaning the power to approve the maps will go to the state Supreme Court.
Henderson said the court has already decided the state legislature will still retain their usual redistricting duty but with different circumstances.
“However now the state legislature’s not in complete control of it, the Supreme Court has to sign off. So it’s possible the Supreme Court could say ‘I don’t like what the state legislature did, so go back to work.’ It could really complicate things,” said Henderson.
Despite the challenges, District 13 State Representative Chris Hall hopes that there will be cooperation on both sides of the aisle so that the task can be completed in a timely fashion.
“We see other states in the news in big drawn-out court battles over what their maps look like that sometimes take several years, and I think most people in this state just want their government to work and work hard for them, and it works better if we do it in a fair way,” said Hall.
The first maps are expected to be released to the public by September 16. After that, it’ll be much easier to determine where the more dramatic shifts in population have occurred around the state.