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INFONET 2021: Issue #10

Issue 10, 8/28/2021

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Redistricting Begins

Every ten years, after the US Census is done, every state goes through what we call a "redistricting" process.  It is how we make sure every district in the state has about the same number of people in it, so that we all have equal representation in our State Capitols (state legislatures) and Washington DC (Congress).  This year, all states are behind in drawing these new maps, since census data came in late during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Iowa's redistricting process is a national model - it is really hard to mess around with the maps to help one political party or the other.  We wrote a lot about this back in April (click here to read that article). 

  • Iowa Constitution requires new maps to be signed into law by September 15, or the Iowa Supreme Court must "cause the state to be apportioned" by the end of the year. The Supreme Court has said they will "cause" the new maps to be drawn by asking the Legislature to do it in October.  
  • After the first map is released, a five-person Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission is required to host at least three public hearings to hear what Iowans think about the maps.  Usually these must be held in three different geographic areas - but this year the redistricting commission plans to hold them virtually on Sept. 20 (7 pm), Sept. 21 (Noon), and Sept. 22 (6 pm).  You can watch for more details about joining these meetings on our social media feeds, or here.  The commission will have to report back to the Legislature within 14 days of getting the maps, so this process will move very quickly.
  • The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency draws up the first plan without any outside interference (they actually move them to a private location to do this).  That map must be done within 45 days of the state receiving the census data (Iowa received their data in mid-August).  

  • The Legislature is then required to vote on the first map within three days of receiving the commission's report.  The Legislature cannot amend the maps, it is a yes or no vote.  If the first map is not accepted, the Legislative Services Agency is required to prepare a second map within 35 days.  That map is also not amendable, the commission is not required to hold additional public hearings, and the Legislature must vote on the map within 7 days of seeing it.
  • If the Legislature does not vote for the second map, a third plan is developed and sent to legislators. This plan can be amended, which opens the door to "gerry mandering," which means politicians drawing map lines to help their political party.  Iowa has never amended a plan since the passage of this process in 1980, because Iowa's process is fair, unbiased and almost immune to politics.  The first plan was enacted in 1991 and 2011; the second plan was enacted in 2001; and the third plan was enacted in 1981 without amendment.

 Why is this important?  

US Representatives, state representatives, and state senators all represent a district.  You are represented in Congress and at the State Capitol by these people.  When the maps of districts change, you may end up in a different district, with different elected officials.  For instance, one Western Iowa advocate is friends with his state senator.  Western Iowa lost population, so the districts there will change some and will probably grow in geographic size.  There is a chance that the advocate, who lives in a different county than his senator friend, may end up in a different state senate district.

This means you may have someone new representing you after the next election (November 2022).  It's important to remember, the new districts won't change who represents you in the Legislature next session (January-April 2022).  Legislators will run in these new districts in November 2022, so they will be really interested in hearing from any "new constituents" even before the maps become official.

You can see the current district maps here.

KEY POINTS: 

The Iowa Legislature will come back for a special session in October to adopt new legislative and Congressional district maps.

There will be three public hearings to hear what Iowans think about the first map held online at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20; Noon on Thursday, September 21; and 6 p.m. on Friday, September 22.

Congressional and legislative candidates will run in these new districts next year (November 2022 election).  

You may end up in a new legislative or Congressional district.

 

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Redistricting History: How the Maps Have Looked Over the Years

At one time,  Iowa had more elected Congressional districts, but lost them as population dropped.  While Iowa will not lose a Congressional district in this redistricting process, the maps will change.  We thought you might like to see what they looked like since the state passed its redistricting laws.

Congressional Maps (1982, 1992, 2002, 2012)

Iowa State Senate Maps (1982, 1992, 2002, 2012)

 

 

State Representative Maps (1982, 1992, 2002, 2012)

 

 

2021 Maps (we'll see soon!) 

 

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Legislative Retirements, Announcements

Elected officials have to decide each year whether to run again.  This year, state and federal legislators will think about their new districts before deciding to run again (or to run for another office).  Some of those are already starting that "shuffling" - so we are going to try to keep a running list of those retiring, running for other offices, and going for re-election.  Here's what we have so far:

US Senate

  • Sen. Charles Grassley (R) has not yet said whether he'll run again.
  • State Sen. Jim Carlin (R) has said he will run for US Senate against Sen. Grassley (whether or not he runs again).
  • Former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) has said she'll run against him.

US House

  • State Sen. Liz Mathis (D) has announced she will run for Congress against current US Rep. Ashley Hinson (R).
  • State Sen. Zach Nunn (R) is running for Congress against current US Rep. Cindy Axne (D).
  • Former State Rep. Maryann Hanusa (R) has also announced she will run for Congress against current US Rep. Cindy Axne (D).
  • State Rep. Christian Bohannan (D) will run for Congress against current US Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R).

Iowa Senate

  • State Sen. Rob Hogg (D) will not run for re-election (he's retiring, hasn't said if he'll run for something else)

Iowa House

  • State Rep. Marti Anderson (D) and Bruce Hunter (D) will not run for re-election; they both live in Polk County.  
  • State Rep. Ras Smith (D) has announced he is running for Governor against Kim Reynods (R); he will likely have to give up his State House seat.
  • State Rep. John Landon (R) died of cancer last month; there will be a new State Rep. from the Ankeny area after the September 14 special election (either Democrat Andrea Phillips or Republican Mike Bousselot). You can read more about this later in this newsletter. 

We'll keep this list updated as we move closer to when candidate running for office have to file their papers (March 2022).

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Monthly Medicaid Member Meetings

Iowa Medicaid is planning to host monthly online listening posts with individuals whose services and supports are paid for by Medicaid.  These monthly meetings will usually be held on the 4th Thursday of the month. Click here to sign up or find the link informationThis will also be a time for Iowa Medicaid to share information with its members, so it is both a learning time and a time for you to talk about how things can be improved (or talk about what is going well).

  • Thursday, September 23 (5-6 pm)
  • Thursday, October 28 (5-6 pm) 

Dates and times for the November and December listening posts have not yet been set (since the 4th Thursday will probably conflict with holidays).  Listening posts with providers will be held on the same days, from 4-5 pm.  

Why is this important?  This is a time when you can talk about any issues you are having with Medicaid, talk about what is working well, and learn more about what Iowa Medicaid is doing.  Now is the time to talk about that, since the state is getting ready to give other managed care organizations a chance to join the Iowa system (a "third" MCO to join AmeriGroup and Iowa TotalCare).

Speaking of other managed care companies - Molina Health (a potential new MCO) has announced they have hired former Iowa Medicaid Director and Health/Human Services Budget Staffer Jennifer Vermeer.  An Ohio-based non-profit MCO has also been meeting with legislators and stakeholders (CareSource).  You can learn more about them by clicking on their names.  DHS has not set the timeline for a new managed care company selection, but that is a good question to ask in these meetings! 

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2022 Survey: Let Us Know What YOU Care About!

We want to know more about the issues you care about - and what you want to see your state and federal elected officials do in 2022.  Let us know by taking our super fast survey!  This will help us know what issues to track for you!

 

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Election 2021: Yes, There IS an Election!

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act after several states have passed tougher voting laws (including Iowa).  We believe all Iowans should be included in our elections, and we want to make sure every Iowan has the chance to vote. While the bill will probably not make it through the process, Iowans with disabilities will need to adjust to the state's new voting laws that shorten the period to vote by mail.  This year is not a "big" election year; there are no legislators, Congresspeople, or Governor on the ballot.  When you talk about school policies (like wearing masks last year), recreational trails and public transportation, curb cuts and stop light accessibility, library hours, potholes, and the like, it's your local school boards, city councils, and county boards of supervisors making decisions.  These local elections are just as important (some would say more important) that the "bigger elections." 

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, Iowans will have a chance to vote for city council and school board.  

People running for school board or city council have until September 16 to file their paperwork (they have to get signatures from voters in order to have their names on the ballot).  We will let you know moare about how to find out who is running, but for now make sure you mark this election on your calendars.  There is something you can do now to be ready:

On Tuesday, September 14, voters living in House District 39 (which includes the northside of Ankeny and includes Alleman and Douglas Township).

This area had been represented by Rep. John Landon, who died of cancer last month.  Voters in this district will go to the polls on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 (7 am to 8 pm).  Voters can vote early at the county auditor's office, or by mail (but remember voted ballots need to be in the hands of the county auditor by the time the polls close).  

  • Click here to find out if you are registered to vote.
  • If you are not registered to vote but live in this district, you can pre-register now through Monday, August 30. You can still register to vote after August 30, but you will have to complete these additional steps.
  • For more information about the election and key dates click here.
  • You can learn more about the candidates at the following links:

 

Additional Voting Resources

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