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Everything you need to know about the 2021 Iowa special session

Iowa lawmakers were called back to the statehouse to vote on legislative and congressional redistricting maps.

DES MOINES, Iowa — For the first time in more than a decade, Iowa lawmakers will return to the State Capitol this month for a special legislative session.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in September the date for the special session, Oct. 5. Lawmakers are tasked with approving two sets of maps: new legislative and congressional districts.

An independent redistricting commission submitted the first drafts of the maps last month. The public was able to provide feedback about the maps during four virtual public hearings.

Beginning on Tuesday, Iowa state representatives and senators will reconvene at the statehouse to either approve or reject the maps.

The redrawing of legislative and congressional districts happens every 10 years. This year, the pandemic delayed the U.S. Census Bureau from releasing its data. Therefore, lawmakers are meeting in a special session to go over the maps.

Some key questions about the 2021 special session:

Are Iowa lawmakers paid for their extra work during a special session?


Iowa Code allows for lawmakers to receive a per diem during their work in a special session. 

"Members from Polk County shall receive an amount per day equal to three-fourths of the per diem of the non-Polk County members," state law says.

Are lawmakers allowed to take up any items other than redistricting maps during the special session?


The General Assembly can choose to limit debate to redistricting, or they may choose not to. The rules will be voted upon when the session begins.

Is there a level of attendance needed from lawmakers during a special session?

The same rules apply during a regular session: a quorum

RELATED: 'This Week in Iowa': Getting to know the Des Moines City Council Ward 1 candidates

RELATED: Iowa redistricting: 49 of 99 counties would change Congressional districts if new map approved

What happens if lawmakers reject the first draft of maps? 

The Legislative Services Agency would have 35 days to introduce the second draft of maps. Lawmakers would convene in a second special session. A second plan can be considered seven days after it is submitted to the General Assembly.

Does a special legislative session have a timeframe?


Special sessions do not have a mandatory set beginning and end date.

How can the public participate in the special session?

Legislative business will be streamed online here.

Additionally, members of the public are free to watch in the designated galleries in the Senate or House chambers.

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