Iowa's new legislative districts to be unveiled - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa's new legislative districts to be unveiled

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- This week, we'll learn just how Iowa's legislative districts will change.  It's all because the state's population has dropped, according to numbers released by the US Census Bureau in December.  The non-partisan Iowa Legislative Service Agency has been working to redraw the boundaries to fit the changing population, and that plan will be revealed this Thursday.

The process of drawing up the new legislative boundaries is very secretive, so it's anyone's guess how they will look and what legislators will serve in the new districts.  But one thing's for sure; there are concerns about how the drop in representatives could affect the state's power and influence in our nation's capital.

The US House of Representatives will soon see a shake-up as some states gain seats and others, including Iowa, lose representatives.  It remains unknown just how the new legislative districts will be drawn right now.  But current Congressman Bruce Braley isn't too concerned about the outcome just yet.

"I can't control the outcome of reapportionment so I don't spend any of my time worrying about those things.  I have a lot on my plate representing the district that I represent now," Braley said.

But it's certain that Iowa's representatives will pick up more constituents come next year.  What's in question is just how many counties they'll be tasked with serving to keep equal populations, of about 751,964 people, in the four new districts.

"Districts will simply not look like northeast of the interstates and southwest of the interstates.  It's going to be county by county.  And you may have one district encompassing all of western Iowa, but will have the same population base, as for example, a northeast Iowa district," said Jeff Stein, KWWL political analyst and professor at Wartburg College.

And since two current representatives will wind up in the same district once the new lines are drawn, an election in 2012 will have to determine who gets to keep their job.

"What's going to be most interesting is to see will the incumbents be one from each party or two from the same party.  If they're two from the same party, then you're going to have a lot of activity in the primary.  If you have, as happened in this area the last time, the incumbents from different parties, it sets up a showdown in November between incumbents which indeed is rare," Stein said.

Ultimately, the person that's chosen will have a tougher job with more counties to serve and one less Iowa colleague to help pass legislation and secure funding for the state.

Once Iowa goes down to four seats in the US House, it will be the fewest number of representatives since 1850, just four years after Iowa became a state, when there were just two representatives.

The Iowa Legislative Service's plan will require approval by the state legislature before it becomes official.  It will take public input on the proposal unveiled Thursday during several town hall meetings next month.  After those meetings, a commission will issue a report to the legislature, which can then offer changes to the plan.  Governor Terry Branstad can also reject the new maps twice.  If there's no consensus by then, the Iowa Supreme Court decides the new boundaries.

Below is a list of the public hearings scheduled:

April 4, 6-8:30 p.m. 

Council Bluffs Public Library, ICN Room

400 Willow Avenue       

That meeting carried interactively at the following sites, same day and time

-North Iowa Area Community College, Room 106, Activity Center

500 College Dr.

Mason City

-Northwest Area Education Agency

Room 206

1520 Morningside Ave.

Sioux City

-Spencer Public Library

21 E. 3rd Street

Spencer

April 5, 7-9 p.m.

Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, 729 21st Street in Bettendorf

April 6, 6:30-9 p.m.

Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids

104 Washington Hall, ICN Room

6301 Blvd. SW

That meeting will be carried interactively same day, same time at the following sites

-Keystone Area Education Agency

2310 Chaney Road

Dubuque

-Great Prairie Area Education Agency

2814 N. Court Street

Ottumwa

-Hawkeye Community College

1501 E. Orange Rd.

Waterloo

April 7, 7-9 p.m.

Wallace State Office Building

502 E. 9th St.

Des Moines

Can't attend a meeting and want to comment?  Call (515) 281-5129 by April 7.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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