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Proposed Iowa legislative map would divide Floyd County into two House districts

Proposed Iowa legislative map would divide Floyd County into two House districts Proposed Iowa legislative map would divide Floyd County into two House districts Proposed Iowa legislative map would divide Floyd County into two House districts
By James Grob,
And The Associated Press

It looks like Todd Prichard might be spending a little more time in Howard County, if he chooses to run again and is re-elected.

He said he’s OK with that, as he knows the area well. His in-laws live there and it’s where his wife, Ann, grew up.

“I do a lot of business there, too,” Prichard said.

Prichard, a Democrat and attorney from Charles City, has been a representative since 2013 and currently represents Iowa House District 52, covering Floyd, Chickasaw and part of Cerro Gordo county.

That region will change, if the Iowa legislature approves the new district maps that were first released to the public on Thursday.

“Really the only difference for someone from this area that I can see from these state maps is the state House district,” Prichard said. “That’s my district, and it’s about a 33% change. Two-thirds of it will be the same as before.”

If the maps are approved, Prichard would be in House district 56, which would include all of Howard and Chickasaw Counties, and the southern two-thirds of Floyd County, including the cities of Charles City, New Hampton and Cresco.

House District 52 would now include the eastern half of Cerro Gordo County, while District 55 would include the northern third of Floyd County, all of Mitchell and Worth Counties and the northwest corner of Cerro Gordo County.

House District 53 would include all of Butler and Franklin Counties as well as a small block in north-central Hardin County.

House District 55 would include the Floyd County townships of Cedar, Floyd, Niles, Rockford, Rock Grove and Rudd. House District 56 would include the Floyd County townships of Pleasant Grove, Riverton, St. Charles, Scott, Ulster and Union.

There was little change in the Iowa Senate districts. Senate District 28 would include all of Floyd, Chickasaw, Howard, Mitchell and Worth Counties and the northwest corner of Cerro Gordo County. Senate District 26 would include the rest of Cerro Gordo County, all of Hancock and Winnebago Counties and the southern third of Kossuth County.

Senate District 27 would include all of Franklin, Butler and Bremer Counties, a small block in southwest Fayette County, and a small block in north-central Hardin County.

The district lines are redrawn every 10 years. In the U.S. House, Iowa’s four congressional districts would include two that lean heavily toward Republicans, one that favors Democrats and one that both parties would have a chance at winning under proposed redistricting maps released Thursday by a nonpartisan agency.

The Legislative Services Agency has redrawn Iowa’s political dividing lines to create a southeastern Iowa 1st Congressional District likely to favor Democrats by placing Linn, Johnson and Scott counties in one district. In south-central Iowa, the 3rd District would slightly lean Democratic thanks to the inclusion of Polk County, the state’s large population base.

The new 4th District would grow even larger, increasing from 39 counties to 44 counties, approaching nearly half of Iowa’s 99 counties. It has long been a Republican stronghold and could be even more conservative under the new map.

In northeast Iowa, the proposed 26-county 2nd District would gain Story County, home to Ames, and lean more toward Republicans.

Iowa currently has one Democratic representative and three Republicans.

By state law, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency is responsible for following detailed guidelines to ensure population balance among Iowa’s congressional districts and to prevent political influence in the initial drafting of changes.

The agency’s report said the ideal congressional district population is 797,592 and each of the new districts are close to that, with the 1st District having 63 more people, the 2nd District 36 under, the 3rd eight people under, and the 4th 18 under.

Now that the first map is provided to the Legislature and the public, a five-member Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission has 14 days to hold public hearings to gather comment and prepare a report for the Legislature.

The commission has scheduled virtual hearings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Legislature is scheduled to meet in special session beginning Oct. 5 to consider the first proposal.

Republicans hold a majority in the Legislature so they will have the power to approve or reject the first set of maps.

Prichard said the map was non-partisan, and did not receive any political input at all.

“I tend to support the map, as opposed to letting the political process influence it,” Prichard said. “I think it’s the most fair map we can get.”

He said that Iowa has a good reputation for drawing up districts and hasn’t fallen prey to the gerrymandering that often occurs in other states.

“We’ve had this system in place for 40 years, and it’s a non-partisan group that draws the map,” Prichard said. “They’re beholden to no one other than to drawing districts that fit the law.”

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley called the redistricting process in Iowa “one of the fairest in the nation.”

“After months of delays, we now have a proposed set of maps for redistricting in front of the Iowa Legislature,” Grassley said in a press release. “We will do our due diligence and review it thoroughly to ensure it is a fair set of maps for the people of Iowa.”

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls said his caucus is reviewing the plan to ensure it meets all the legal and constitutional requirements for redistricting.

“We believe Iowans deserve a fair redistricting process, without interference from politicians, and without partisan amendments. We encourage Iowans to examine Plan 1 and to make their voices heard at three public hearings next week,” he said.

Prichard said he will definitely take the new territory into consideration as he considers whether to run for a House seat again.

“We’re a long way out from the next election, I’m not even halfway through this term yet,” he said. “Time will tell what I decide to do.”

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