Commission recommends passage of first Iowa redistricting plan

The five-member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission unanimously recommended today that the Iowa legislature “accept the first proposed Congressional and Legislative redistricting plan,” submitted by the Legislative Services Agency on March 31. I’ve posted the full text of the commission’s report after the jump. Key excerpt:

a. The Commission is grateful to those members of the public who made the effort to provide oral and written testimony concerning the redistricting plan and for those members of the public who attended the public hearings conducted throughout the state. While the concerns expressed by the participants at the public hearings concerning the plan were thoughtful and constructive, they were not within the constitutional and statutory criteria upon which the plan is to be evaluated by the Commission and the Commission is of the opinion that the Legislative Services Agency has satisfied those constitutional and statutory requirements.

b. The Commission is supportive of the many comments heard during the public hearings praising Iowa’s unique and nonpartisan redistricting process.

The commission’s report did not specifically address concerns that Bettendorf resident James Davis raised in a 20-page document last week. Bleeding Heartland discussed Davis’ arguments about the “convenience” standard and other criticisms of the redistricting plan here.

Click here to download the proposed Iowa maps for four Congressional districts, 100 House districts and 50 Senate districts. The Legislative Services Agency’s report on the redistricting proposal is available there too. The Iowa House and Senate may consider House Study Bill 235 as early as this Thursday. If both chambers approve the plan and Governor Terry Branstad signs the bill, Iowa will be the first state to complete its redistricting process.

On Iowa Public Television over the weekend, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said of the proposal, “I look at the House map, I see a pathway to Republican control;  I can also see a pathway to Democratic control.  So that tells me maybe there’s a heightened level of fairness.” Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal commented, “I’d actually say the opposite.  We kind of both don’t like what we see but don’t figure there’s a way to get a better map.  If it was actually stacked pretty well for Democrats, I’m pretty sure Speaker Paulsen is going to take it down in the House and vice versa.  So we both look at the map and see no guarantees, but we both see a pathway. And that is […] that is kind of the essence of a fair map.”

Share any thoughts about the redistricting plan or process in this thread.

P.S.: A rumor going around says Christie Vilsack has been calling state legislators in the proposed second Congressional district.

P.P.S: Representative Dave Loebsack is said to be calling state legislators in his district too.

Link (pdf file):

REPORT OF THE TEMPORARY REDISTRICTING ADVISORY COMMISSION TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APRIL 11, 2011

Pursuant to section 42.6 of the 2011 Code of Iowa, the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission submits this report to the General Assembly regarding the plan for Congressional and Legislative redistricting submitted by the Legislative Services Agency to the General Assembly on March 31, 2011.

HEARINGS

The Commission held four public hearings on the plan on April 4, 5, 6, and 7, in Council Bluffs, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines respectively. The Council Bluffs hearing was accessible to the public at Iowa Communications Network (ICN) satellite sites in Sioux City, Mason City, and Spencer while the Cedar Rapids hearing was accessible to the public at ICN satellite sites in Dubuque, Ottumwa, and Waterloo. As required by law, summaries of testimony and information presented at the hearings are attached to and by this reference made a part of this report.

REDISTRICTING STANDARDS

Section 42.4 of the 2011 Code of Iowa states that the following redistricting standards must be met in establishing new Congressional and Legislative district boundaries:

1. Districts shall be established on the basis of population and shall each have a population as nearly equal as practicable to the ideal population.

2. For Congressional districts, each district shall be composed of whole counties. For Legislative districts, the number of counties and cities divided into more than one district shall be as small as possible.

3. Districts shall be composed of convenient contiguous territory.

4. Districts shall be reasonably compact in form, to the extent consistent with the first three standards. In general, reasonably compact districts are those which are square, rectangular, or hexagonal in shape, and not irregularly shaped, to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries.

5. A district shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, political party, or other person or group.

6. Each state representative district shall be wholly included within a single state senatorial district. To the extent possible and consistent with the first five standards, each Senate and House district shall be wholly included within a single Congressional district.

7. A new districting plan shall not be used prior to the primary election of 2012.

8. Each bill embodying a plan shall include provisions for election of senators to the general assemblies which take office in 2013 and 2015, which shall be in conformity with Article Ill, section 6, of the Constitution of the State of Iowa.

COMMENTS, CONCLUSIONS, AND COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

The Legislative Services Agency staff has presented a proposed Congressional and Legislative redistricting plan to the General Assembly and the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission has listened to and received testimony presented at four public hearings across the state and via electronic submission.

1. The Commission hereby unanimously makes the following comments concerning Congressional and Legislative redistricting:

a. The Commission is grateful to those members of the public who made the effort to provide oral and written testimony concerning the redistricting plan and for those members of the public who attended the public hearings conducted throughout the state. While the concerns expressed by the participants at the public hearings concerning the plan were thoughtful and constructive, they were not within the constitutional and statutory criteria upon which the plan is to be evaluated by the Commission and the Commission is of the opinion that the Legislative Services Agency has satisfied those constitutional and statutory requirements.

b. The Commission is supportive of the many comments heard during the public hearings praising Iowa’s unique and nonpartisan redistricting process.

2. After four days of informative hearings and careful review of the first proposed redistricting plan, the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission unanimously recommends that the General Assembly accept the first proposed Congressional and Legislative redistricting plan.

SUBMISSION OF REPORT

This report is submitted to the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly.

Respectfully Submitted, MS. MAGGIE TINSMAN, CHAIRPERSON MS. ROSE BROWN

MR. LANCE EHMCKE

MR. MATT PAUL

MR. ERIC TURNER

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