Issue 11, 10/29/2021

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Second Redistricting Plan Passes

Over the last year, we have talked a lot about the US Census and how the new information about population changes each state's Congressional and state legislative districts. Iowa's process is known as the fairest in the country. We have a non-partisan legislative staff that draws the new maps. They are not allowed to consider things like where current legislators live or how many Republicans vs. Democrats are in the district. They can only look at keeping population as equal as possible, keeping districts as compact (small) as possible, and keeping cities and counties together (not splitting them if at all possible).
The Iowa Legislature met yesterday and passed the second set of maps that were sent to them - maps that redraw Iowa's four Congressional districts, 50 Iowa Senate districts, and 100 Iowa House districts. After voting down the first set of maps last month, the Legislature accepted the second set of maps (48-1 in the Senate and 93-2 in the House). 
The Governor is expected to sign the maps into law, saying "Today’s decision by the Iowa Legislature to approve the second draft of the legislative and congressional redistricting maps is very encouraging. I am confident in how the process played out—just as the law intended, and I believe these new districts will fairly and accurately represent the citizens of Iowa for the next decade.” 
  • If you want to know who represents you in a new district, you can use the interactive map here (just put in your home address).  
  • If you want to see which legislators got thrown together or where the open seats are in the new map, click here

What does this mean to you?

It is important to note that these maps are for the 2022 election - your current elected officials will continue to represent you through the end of 2022. However, if you are going to end up with new elected officials, you can contact both your current and your new elected officials about issues during the 2022 session. it's a good time to introduce yourself as someone in their new district. We will talk more about that in upcoming Capitol Chats and in our January issue of infoNET.

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Workplace Vaccine Mandates Restricted

Yesterday's special session was not just about redistricting. Several hundred protestors flooded the halls of the Iowa Capitol during the special session, holding rallies and chanting “ legalize freedom” in their push to pass legislation to make it illegal for businesses to require employees get COVID-19 vaccinations.  
In response, the Legislature passed a law that would:
  • Require an employer to waive a Covid-19 vaccination requirement if the employee provides a statement that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine would cause harm to their health or conflicts with their religion. This requirement would apply to all employers in the state, including businesses and organizations that provide health services to Iowans.
  • A person who is discharged from employment because they did not get a required COVID-19 vaccine would now be allowed to get unemployment benefits. The bill also makes sure that the employer's unemployment contribution rates are not changed because of the worker getting unemployment benefits. 
  • The bill takes effect immediately when signed by the Governor. 
Protesters did not support the bill; they felt it did not go far enough. Their chants changed to “Kill the Bill.” The House State Government Committee Chair Rep. Bobby Kaufmann did say he was open to talking about more changes in this area when session returns in January 2022. 

What does this mean to you?

It's hard to say how this change will impact Iowans. If you are concerned that coworkers or people that support you will be unvaccinated, this may be very concerning. It makes it more difficult for a business to require vaccinations, so it may be more difficult for a business to protect you if they cannot require their workers get vaccinated. If you are someone with a health condition and are concerned what vaccination may do to that health condition, you may be happy to know that your employer cannot require you to take the vaccine if it could impact your health.
As we have said with all things COVID-19, it's best to get your advice from your doctor or health care provider to find out how this will affect you and what you need to do to stay healthy.

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