09-15-2021 | Blogs, Government & Regulatory, Lobbying & Public Policy

Government Relations Update – 9.15.21

By: BrownWinick

House District 37 will continue to be represented by a republican as Michael Bousselot defeated Andrea Phillips in yesterday’s special election. Bousselot, an attorney and former director of Iowa’s Department of Management, secured 51.58% of the vote. The democratic candidate Andrea Phillips received 48.30% of the vote. Those figures are unofficial until certified by the Polk County Board of Supervisors.
The special election was set to replace the late Rep. John Landon who represented the district since 2013. Landon defeated Phillips in 2016 and 2020. Bousselot’s victory ensures republicans hold their 59 seats in the Iowa House.
Iowa is moving closer to a special session to address redistricting as Governor Reynolds has set the legislature’s return to the statehouse for Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
The first map and maybe the only map the legislature will consider will be released tomorrow, Thursday Sept. 16, at 10:00 a.m. by the Legislative Services Agency. The ”map” is technically written in bill format, including written descriptions of each proposed House and Senate District which are codified in the Iowa Code. 
As Iowa will miss the Wednesday Sept. 15 constitutional deadline to vote on the 2021 redistricting bill, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an order yesterday to extend the deadline to Dec. 1, 2021. The Supreme Court initially released a statement in April acknowledging the timing issue.
The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC) will hold public hearings on Sept. 20, 21, and 22. The meetings will be held virtually, and any member of the public can participate. TRAC is then set to meet on Sept. 23 to discuss a summary of the public input and to make recommendations contained in a report which is sent to the full legislature.   
Once the legislature gets the report, it must wait three days but is expected to act “expeditiously” to vote up or down the new map. If the legislature votes down the first map, LSA has 35 days to develop a new one. If the legislature votes down the second map, LSA has another 35 days to send a third map. Legislators may file amendments to the third map.  In any event, the longer this goes on the more likely the special session butts up against the start of the 2022 legislative session, January 10, 2022.
The Constitutional Amendment governing the redistricting process was passed in 1968. Iowa Code chapter 42 was passed in 1980 setting forth the process and mandating that the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency be responsible for drafting the map. Since implementation of Chapter 42, the succeeding four redistricting plans have all met the Constitutional and Code requirements. the first plan was enacted in 1991 and 2011, the second plan was enacted in 2001 and the third plan without amendment was enacted in 1981. 
Once the map is made public, it will be found HERE.
Democrat Wes Breckenridge recently announced his retirement from the Iowa House. The Newton lawmaker stepped down as he accepted a new position with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Breckenridge previously served 27 years as a Newton police officer and he also taught criminal justice courses at Des Moines Area Community College as an adjunct professor.
Governor Reynolds has set the special election for House District 29 for Tuesday, Oct. 12. Located in Jasper County, the district includes Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Ira, Mingo, and Kellogg. The fall’s second special election will likely also be closely contested. Breckenridge won his first race with 51% of the vote, his first reelection in 2018 with 59%, and his second reelection in 2020 with 51.6%. Democrats currently maintain 41 seats in the Iowa House.
Thanks, and please let us know if you have any questions.
Matt, Julie, Paige and RG