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Iowa panel to report Iowans at hearings support redrawn map

September 23, 2021 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state commission will submit a report to the Iowa Legislature that indicates Iowans who offered an opinion support the first set of maps drawn by a nonpartisan state agency.

A majority of the five-member Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission supported Thursday a statement in their report to lawmakers that says the commission acknowledges that a majority of Iowans who expressed an opinion to the commission favor Iowa’s redistricting process and the first proposed redistricting plan.

Two Republican appointees to the commission, David Roederer and Chris Hagenow said they preferred to leave out language about Iowans who spoke or wrote in supporting the first plan but three members agreed it was accurate and stated the facts.

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Democratic appointees Ian Russell and Jazmin Newton-Butt supported the language along with commission Chairwoman Susan Lerdal, who was appointed by the other four commissioners.

By law the five-member commission is required to hold hearings to gather input on the first set of maps submitted by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and then provide a report to the legislature. The LSA is bound by the Iowa Constitution and state law to draw maps within strict guidelines based on population balance other criteria designed to insulate the process from partisan politics.

Most of the nearly 150 people who submitted written comments or spoke at the public hearings said they supported Iowa’s process and the first set of maps they believe were drawn fairly.

The Legislature is scheduled to meet on Oct. 5 to consider the first maps that lay out new lines for state legislative and congressional districts. Republicans hold a majority so they will control the decision. They cannot amend the maps but can reject them in which case the LSA must draw a second set. Lawmakers can reject that set as well. The LSA must then draw a third set of maps which the Legislature can amend.

Democratic leaders have said the first set of maps was drawn according to the law they will support them. Republicans have not made such a commitment.