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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 

Priority for the 2019 Session - Modified Iowa Redistricting Model for New Mexico

In 1980 the Iowa legislature enacted legislation to improve their redistricting process. The model has turned out to be widely admired for its efficiency, cost- and time-effectiveness, and lack of partisan contentiousness.

The Iowa redistricting process was created in statute, and we believe New Mexico’s could also be done this way. Although the League, and a majority of the public would prefer an independent redistricting commission, we understand there is little legislative support for that route.

What is the Iowa process? In a nutshell, Iowa’s version of the Legislative Council Service draws up maps based on criteria set by the legislature and the federal standards. Then the process proceeds as follows:

Step One: The legislature votes up or down on the maps created by and presented by LCS, no amendments. If the legislature does not approve the maps, they are sent back to LCS for rework.

Step Two: A second set of maps is presented to the legislature for an up or down vote with no amendments. If not approved, they are sent back to LCS for rework.

Step Three: The third set of maps is presented to the legislature. These maps can be amended. If not approved, the maps go directly to the Supreme Court, which will draw the maps.

Iowa nests their house and senate seats in the congressional districts, but we are not proposing this for New Mexico. In New Mexico, the process would be applied to congressional districts, the Public Education Commission, the Public Regulation Commission and the legislature.

Iowa law states that political subdivisions, contiguity, and compactness must be considered in redistricting. We would like these provisions to be included in the New Mexico law. Iowa law also provides that certain factors shall not be considered when preparing redistricting plans. Specifically, the code provides that districts shall not be drawn to favor any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, any other person or group, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a

language or racial minority group. We would like these provisions to be included in the New Mexico law.

Iowa creates a five-member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC). Four of the commission members are selected by the respective Majority and Minority Floor Leaders for the Senate and House. Within 30 days after the four appointments are made, the four members choose the fifth member who serves as chair. The TRAC has two functions: to provide guidance to the LCS if questions arise about the process; and, once the first plan is released to the legislature, to hold at least three public meetings to obtain public input. The TRAC summarizes the public input in a report to the legislature.

Does the Iowa model work? The Iowa legislature approved the third plan in 1981without amendment. In 1991 and 2011 the legislature approved the first proposed plan. In 2001 the legislature approved the second proposed plan. Contrast this to the 2011 New Mexico process where the maps were contested and had to go to the Supreme Court. This resulted in $5 million additional cost. Also, New Mexico’s final legislative redistricting map was not approved until February 29, 2012, just days before the final candidate filing deadline.

The League is working with the Legislative Council Service to draft legislation to create an Iowa-style redistricting process for New Mexico. We are asking New Mexico legislators to support this legislation.

Links to more information on Iowa Redistricting:

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/LG/9461.pdf

http://www.ncsl.org/research/redistricting/the-iowa-model-for-redistricting.aspx

https://www.c-span.org/video/?451614-1/congressional-redistricting