There’ll be a “big reveal” at the statehouse Thursday morning. Maps that outline new boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts will be released. Staff in the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency have taken population data from the 2010 Census and redrawn the lines for the state’s congressional district and for state legislative districts. It means high drama when the maps are unveiled at the statehouse, as members of the Iowa House and Senate scramble to see whether they may be forced to run against another legislator. Brent Siegrist, a Republican from Council Bluffs, was in the legislature in both 2001 and in 1991 when previous redistricting plans were revealed.
Siegrist was first elected to the Iowa House in 1984. In 1991, Siegrist was gobsmacked when he saw that year’s redistricting map and discovered that in 1992 he’d have to run against a Democrat from Council Bluffs who’d already been elected to nine terms in the House. He says that got his attention very quickly. He says it felt like a punch in the gut. But Siegrist won that 1992 race.
Siegrist was still in the legislature in 2001 when the last redistricting plan was considered. Siegrist was Speaker of the House by then and he visited with legislative leaders from other states who didn’t understand why he’d agree to the process Iowa uses to redraw district lines.
The process for “redistricting” in Iowa calls for legislators either to accept or reject the maps unveiled Thursday. The lines cannot be adjusted by legislators. A vote on the redistricting plan will happen later this month, after a series of public hearings. Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky is married to a long-time legislator who has been through redistricting twice, in 1991 and 2001.
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