Court gives Iowa politicians until December 1 to adopt new maps

Iowa Supreme Court justices finally let the public in on the secret.

Under Iowa’s constitution, authority to enact legislative maps (but not Congressional maps) passes to the high court after September 15. But a September 14 order signed by Chief Justice Susan Christensen gives the legislature and governor until December 1 “to prepare an apportionment in accord with Iowa Code chapter 42,” which outlines the redistricting process Iowa has used since 1981.

High-ranking Republicans have indicated for months that they expected the Iowa House and Senate to be able to vote on new maps after the constitutional deadline, but the judicial branch’s spokesperson would not confirm whether justices or their representatives gave private assurances to key lawmakers. Bleeding Heartland’s request for written correspondence between the chief justice and legislative leaders produced no responsive records.

The court could have clarified months ago that it planned to proceed in this manner. But better late than never.

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One Iowa government branch follows science on COVID-19

Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate declined this year to require face coverings, social distancing, or other COVID-19 mitigation practices in the state capitol. Governor Kim Reynolds and her staff have been spreading misinformation and casting doubt about whether masks reduce coronavirus transmission in schools.

But one branch of state government is following the recommendations of top scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen signed an order on August 27 stating that “All people entering court-controlled areas must wear a face covering,” even if they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

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Iowa lawmakers to receive first redistricting plan by September 16

Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency (LSA) intends to submit the first set of proposed Congressional and legislative maps to the state House and Senate by Thursday, September 16.

The agency’s senior legal counsel Ed Cook announced the timing during an August 17 meeting of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC), which will organize public hearings on the proposed maps and submit a report to state lawmakers summarizing the feedback.

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Iowa redistricting predictions, part 5: Data almost here!

Evan Burger continues his series of posts on Iowa redistricting scenarios.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced some exciting news: they will release the next round of redistricting data this Thursday, August 12, four days earlier than promised. 

At long last, Iowa will have the population counts needed to start drawing new district lines – and just in time, considering that the Iowa Constitution requires the legislature to finish redistricting by September 15. 

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Pissed off: New Iowa law makes fake urine a crime

Marty Ryan covers a new law that received little attention early this year. -promoted by Laura Belin

A private sector employee from Iowa goes across the border on a Friday after work to Illinois. His friends offer a blunt, and he takes a hit. He thinks nothing of it, because recreational use of pot is legal in Illinois. On his way home on Sunday, he realizes that there could be a random drug test early in the week. He’s heard marijuana will stay in his system for up to 30 days, so he purchases a package of fake urine at a vape shop.

Monday morning, he is asked to take a drug test. He manages to get the fake urine into the beaker without anyone seeing him.

Days later, a lab result indicates that he may have used fake urine. Depending on a union contract, an employee handbook, or company policy that has been posted conspicuously, the employee may be disciplined, or in a severe case terminated. Now, he can also be arrested for a simple misdemeanor.

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Four ways the Iowa Supreme Court may handle next big abortion case

The Iowa Supreme Court will soon revisit one of the most politically charged questions of our time.

Last week a Johnson County District Court permanently blocked the state from “implementing, effectuating or enforcing” a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period before all abortions. Judge Mitchell Turner ruled the law unconstitutional on two grounds. The state is appealing the ruling and argues that a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court precedent, which established a fundamental right to an abortion under the Iowa Constitution, was “wrongly decided.”

Republican lawmakers planned for this scenario when they approved the waiting period during the waning hours of the 2020 legislative session. They may get their wish, but a reversal of the 2018 decision is not guaranteed.

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