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Iowa Senate rejects first draft of redistricting maps

The vote was along party lines Tuesday afternoon.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Senate Republicans rejected the first draft of new maps for legislative and congressional districts Tuesday afternoon.

The vote was along party lines, with Republicans in control of the chamber. 18 Senate Democrats voted to pass the maps.

The Senate adjourned the special session shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"Senate District 49 looks, Senate District 17 literally looks like the salamander from gerrymandering. There's other districts that have House districts that would be the fifth-biggest Senate district in compactness," said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. "Those are the things we would look at."

The Legislative Services Agency has 35 days to submit a second plan for redistricting. That would mean state lawmakers would be back in the Capitol by the second week of November.

Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, spoke on the floor in favor of rejecting the maps, saying "there is room for improvement."

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, called for his colleagues to approve the maps, saying they were drawn by a non-partisan group and are fair.

"What they have started to set up today with the rejecting of the first plan is really a rejecting of the second plan," he said. "I truly believe with this vote today they've already started the gerrymandering process for a third plan."

BREAKING: With a vote of 32 nays and 18 yeas - the first proposed redistricting map fails in the Senate

Posted by Mary Sugden on Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The once-a-decade exercise rebalances the districts to coincide with population shifts, which in Iowa were generally away from rural areas to larger cities. The Legislature on Tuesday considered maps released Sept. 16 by the Legislative Services Agency.

The LSA is responsible for following detailed guidelines to ensure population balance among the congressional and legislative districts and to prevent political influence in the initial drafting of changes.

The Legislature may only accept or reject the first two sets of maps without amendment. A third set of maps may be amended. 

Given the Republican majority in the Legislature, the GOP would control that process.

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WATCH: 49 of 99 counties would change Congressional districts if new map approved