Since 1980 in Iowa, the congressional and legislative plans have been drawn by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) with input from a five-member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC). The commission is composed of four members selected by the majority and minority floor leaders of the General Assembly, and the fifth member is selected by the aforementioned members. The TRAC was established to administer and coordinate public hearings and input on the LSA’s proposed plans. The maps are enacted by the Iowa General Assembly, subject to the governor’s veto. If they fail to enact legislative plans, the responsibility falls to the Iowa Supreme Court.
In 2020, the Iowa legislature rejected the first set of maps proposed by LSA and the advisory commission. These maps were criticized as a “radical realignment of the state’s political dynamics.”The legislature subsequently approved the second set of maps which aligned more closely to the state’s 2010 congressional maps. These maps were signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds on November 4, 2021.
Overall State Grade: B
- Opportunities for public input need to be expanded: Organizers noted progress with the amount and quality of public outreach this redistricting cycle compared to past cycles. In particular, they expressed satisfaction with the state redistricting website and the virtual public hearings, during which over 250 public comments were submitted.29 However, advocates still noted that there was room for improvement. For example, this cycle, the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission only held three virtual public hearings, and advocates expressed that there should be more hearings in the future. Further, while organizers expressed satisfaction with the LSA’s map-drawing, it is recommended that the LSA allow public input in the form of publicly submitted maps. This would allow for the public a more direct opportunity to engage the LSA on actual map-drawing and provide direct feedback during map drafting.
- Consider communities of interest as a criterion: The current criteria for redistricting used by the LSA does not consider communities of interest. The state criteria do not allow consideration for self- identified groups of individuals who have similar legislative concerns, and who might therefore benefit from cohesive representation in the legislature. Future cycles should adopt communities of interest as part of the redistricting criteria.