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Iowa Legislature approves new political boundaries drawn by nonpartisan agency

Iowa Senate Republicans rejected the first proposed redistricting plan Tuesday.
Katarina Sostaric
The Iowa Senate approved the second proposed redistricting plan Thursday.

The Iowa Legislature voted Thursday to approve the second set of proposed political boundaries for the state’s congressional and legislative districts, sending the maps to the governor's desk for her signature.

Iowa’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency drew the second set of redistricting maps after Republican senators rejected the agency’s first proposal earlier this month.

Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, said the second proposal isn’t perfect and didn’t address all of his concerns with the first plan.

“However, it did improve on the average population deviation and some of the compactness measures for the four congressional districts and the 150 legislative districts,” Smith said.

Senate GOP leaders haven’t talked publicly about how the second set of maps appears to be more politically favorable to Republicans than the first set. Iowa law prohibits considering the addresses of current lawmakers and voting patterns when drawing new districts.

This proposed congressional map would likely leave Iowa with three competitive districts and one Republican stronghold. The first proposal that was rejected would’ve created a district very likely to vote Democratic.

Democrats said they would vote for the second set of maps when they were released last week. Republicans and Democrats said Thursday they were upholding Iowa's "gold standard" redistricting process that protects against gerrymandering.

“The real winners here are Iowans," said House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights. "If we support these maps, they’ll be the ones to decide. And by giving them maps that are drawn without partisan interference, we are ensuring Iowans have the power.”

The vote in the Senate was 48 to 1, and the vote in the House was 93 to 2.

If Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signs the redistricting plan into law, it will help determine Iowans' political representation for the next 10 years.

"Today's decision by the Iowa Legislature to approve the second draft of the legislative and congressional redistricting maps is very encouraging," Reynolds said in a statement. "I am confident in how the process played out—just as the law intended, and I believe these new districts will fairly and accurately represent the citizens of Iowa for the next decade."

The new legislative maps would put 58 of Iowa's 150 state lawmakers into districts with each other. They'll soon have to decide whether to move to a different district, retire, or run against a colleague.

The congressional maps would put the home of Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks into the 3rd District, which is represented by Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne.

"I have indicated that I will be a candidate for reelection," Miller-Meeks said in a statement Thursday evening. "I will be evaluating the new districts to determine my next step, which I will be announcing shortly."

This post was updated Thursday, Oct. 28 at 9:36 p.m.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter