The U.S. Census has announced a delay in its planned release of redistricting data to states. The Census has indicated that this data will be delivered by September 30, 2021. In most years following a decennial census, this data is available by April 1. This is the information that states currently need to redraw or “redistrict” their legislative boundaries. The Census has announced it will be releasing some US redistricting data in a “legacy format” by August 16, 2021, to assist states, however, the official release in a user-friendly format will follow by September.
The redistricting data includes counts of population by race, ethnicity, voting age, housing occupancy status, and group quarters population, all at the census block level. Other census information, including city population counts, will also be delayed.
Iowa’s Constitution Article III, Section 35 calls for the state-level districting to be complete prior to September 15; otherwise, it falls to the supreme court to comply prior to December 31. In the past, Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency (LSA) has drawn proposed maps to be considered for approval.
“The general assembly shall, in 1971 and in each year immediately following the United States decennial census determine the number of senators and representatives to be elected to the general assembly and establish senatorial and representative districts. The general assembly shall complete the apportionment prior to September 1 of the year so required. If the apportionment fails to become law prior to September 15 of such year, the supreme court shall cause the state to be apportioned into senatorial and representative districts to comply with the requirements of the constitution prior to December 31 of such year. The reapportioning authority shall, where necessary in establishing senatorial districts, shorten the term of any senator prior to completion of the term. Any senator whose term is so terminated shall not be compensated for the uncompleted part of the term.”
The League is monitoring impacts related to city precincts and wards and will provide guidance as available from the state. Currently, Code of Iowa Section 49.7, subsection 5 states that:
Precinct boundaries shall become effective on January 15 of the second year following the year in which the census was taken and shall be used for all subsequent elections. Precinct boundaries drawn by the state commissioner shall be incorporated into the ordinances of the city or county.
For more detail on local precincts and wards, see Code of Iowa Section 49.7.
Census population counts impact city revenue streams and funding that derive at least a portion of their formula from the population. State revenue streams impacted include Road Use Tax Funds and Local Option Sales Tax.
The Iowa DOT has advised in the month after the 2020 census is certified by the Secretary of State, the new city population counts will go into effect for the city Road Use Tax Fund (RUTF) apportionments.
The League is communicating with the Iowa Department of Revenue to determine any Local Option Sales Tax impacts.