Democratic election bill would preserve Iowa's redistricting

Iowa would be exempt from one part of a wide-ranging election reform bill the U.S. House approved on March 3 on a mostly party-line 220 to 210 vote. This document explains each section of H.R.1, also known as the For the People Act. In her explainer for Vox, Ella Nilsen provided bullet points on the main provisions, which fall into three broad categories: “expanding voting rights, implementing campaign finance reform, and beefing up ethics laws for members of Congress.”

The bill won’t advance in the U.S. Senate unless Democrats limit the use of the filibuster, which at least two senators now oppose. But if they come around, President Joe Biden has indicated he would sign the bill.

H.R. 1 would ban partisan gerrymandering for federal elections, requiring states to use independent redistricting commissions to draw Congressional districts instead. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) successfully advocated for language that would allow Iowa to keep the nonpartisan process used here since 1981.

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Iowa redistricting predictions, part 3: Legislative overview

Evan Burger speculates on how statutory requirements for drawing new Iowa House and Senate districts could impact partisan control of the legislature during the 2020s. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month, I wrote about the rules governing Iowa’s Congressional redistricting process, and made some predictions. For this post, I’ll do the same for the legislative side of redistricting – but first, a quick mention of two related developments since my last piece. 

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Am I a member of the media? Iowa Republican leaders still say no

A number of readers and some journalists have asked me recently whether I was able to resolve the credentialing problems I experienced last year.

The short answer is no. Despite being warned that their press credentialing policies “suffer from serious constitutional deficiencies,” leaders in the Iowa House and Senate and staff in Governor Kim Reynolds’ office continue to deny me access to resources they provide to most other reporters who cover state government.

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The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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Iowa House, governor have no grounds to exclude me from "press"

Iowa House Chief Clerk Carmine Boal has refused to grant me credentials for the chamber during the 2019 legislative session. Staff for Governor Kim Reynolds have ignored repeated messages seeking credentials to cover the governor’s office or an explanation for denying my request.

Under the U.S. and Iowa constitutions, no government agency or official may restrain or abridge the freedom of the press. Government bodies must apply any media restrictions uniformly, without regard to the content of news reporting or commentary. That’s not happening here.

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