[Dome] Redistricting Committee of the Legislative Council
June 26, 2000Minutes provided by the Legislative Service Bureau


Senator Jo Ann Johnson, Cochairperson
Senator Jeff Angelo
Senator John Kibbie
Representative Bob Brunkhorst, Cochairperson
Representative Janet Metcalf
Representative Steve Falck
Others in attendance: Diane Bolender, Richard Johnson, Ed Cook, and Gary Rudicil, Legislative Service Bureau; Sandy Scharf, Computer Support Bureau; Andy Warren, Senate Republican Caucus Staff; Gentry Collins, House Republican Caucus Staff; Paulee Lipsman and Jenifer Parsons, House Democratic Staff; Mark Brandsgard, Administrative Assistant to House Minority Leader; and Kent Sovern, Greater Des Moines Partnership


Minutes prepared by Richard Johnson, Deputy Director, LSB
Organizational staffing by Diane Bolender, Director, Ed Cook, Legal Counsel, and Gary Rudicil, Senior Computer Systems Analyst

  1. Procedural Business.
  2. Review of Iowa Redistricting Process.
  3. Review of Materials Distributed.
  4. Report to the Service Committee.
  5. Attachment. (Not available on web site)
  6. Materials Distributed to the Redistricting Committee.

I. Procedural Business.

Call to Order. The first meeting of the Redistricting Committee of the Legislative Council was called to order by Senator JoAnn Johnson, Temporary Cochairperson, at 1:00 p.m., Monday, June 26, 2000, in the Reagan Committee Room of the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa. Representative Bob Brunkhorst was present by telephone conference call.

Cochairpersons Elected. Representative Janet Metcalf moved that the temporary cochairpersons of the Redistricting Committee, Senator Johnson and Representative Brunkhorst, be elected permanent cochairpersons. The motion was seconded by Senator John Kibbie and approved on a voice vote.

Next Meeting Date. The Committee tentatively set its next meeting date for Tuesday, August 1, at 1:00 p.m. in the State Capitol.

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 2:35 p.m.

II. Review of Iowa Redistricting Process.

Ms. Diane Bolender, Director of the Legislative Service Bureau, described Iowa's unique redistricting process and its history.

III. Review of Materials Distributed.

Mr. Ed Cook, Legal Counsel, Legislative Service Bureau, briefly described the materials distributed to the members of the Committee.

  1. Redistricting Quick Takes.
       Mr. Cook described the contents of the document entitled "Redistricting Quick Takes," emphasizing that the Legislative Service Bureau (LSB) is required by statute to draw redistricting plans independently and not in collaboration with legislators, using only the applicable statutory and constitutional guidelines. The caucus staffs, on the other hand, must develop expertise to review LSB plans and to draw their own plans if necessary. If a plan is rejected, the subsequent plans must be drawn to more exacting population measurements or they might pose a legal risk. The LSB plans must be drawn without regard to incumbent addresses or other political and demographic (other than population) data. The LSB does not consider current district boundaries. Therefore, under Iowa's redistricting process, a legislator does not in any way retain or "own" his or her district under a plan drawn by the LSB. While computer technology makes the drawing of plans much easier, the technology itself is not capable of making any decisions regarding the combination of geography units to form new congressional or legislative districts.
       Responding to several questions and comments from members regarding legislative district and congressional district boundaries, Ms. Bolender directed the members to Iowa Code section 42.4(6), which provides that "so far as possible, each representative and each senatorial district shall be included within a single congressional district. However the standards established by subsections 1 through 5 (relating to population equality, use of political subdivision boundaries, contiguity, compactness, and the prohibition of using incumbent addresses, political affiliation of registered voters, previous election results, and demographic information other than population) shall take precedence where a conflict arises between these standards and the requirement, so far as possible, of including a senatorial or representative district within a single congressional district."
  2. 1989-1991 Preparations for Redistricting and Redistricting Timetable for 2000-2001. Mr. Gary Rudicil, Senior Computer Systems Analyst, Legislative Service Bureau, referred members to the document outlining redistricting preparations in 1989-1991 and briefly described the three phases of the current redistricting effort which is described in the document entitled "Redistricting Activity." Phase 1 (Block Boundary Suggestion Project) was completed during 1995-1997 and dealt with the designation by the Census Bureau and local political subdivisions of all census block boundary lines. Phase 2 (Voting District Project), which is nearly complete, entails electronically linking the officially designated census block boundary lines from Phase 1 with current election precinct boundaries. Phase 3 (actual redistricting) involves finalizing the Census Bureau geography files (TIGER 2000 base map), preparing the final voter tabulation districts (VTDs), and loading that geographical database into a software system capable of redrawing congressional and legislative district boundaries using VTDs combined into redistricting data units (RDUs) (mostly election precincts). Phase 3 also involves preparing the final population database received from the Census Bureau for loading into the Iowa system, preparing the associated voter registration and election return data for use by the four caucus staffs, and associating both the historical election precincts and the newly created RDUs with the corresponding population and other demographic data.
  3. Redistricting Issues.
       Mr. Cook referred members to a list of potential issues which may need to be addressed and resolved during the redistricting process this year and in 2001. The issues relate to the following:
  4. 1981 and 1991 Newspaper Clippings Relating to Redistricting.
       Mr. Cook noted that the newspaper clippings for the 1981 and 1991 redistricting efforts portray Iowa's unique redistricting process. That process requires the Legislative Service Bureau to draw district lines on the basis of equal population, use of political subdivision boundaries, contiguity, compactness, and the prohibition of using incumbent addresses, political affiliation of registered voters, previous election results, and demographic information other than population.
  5. Redistricting Phase 3 Budget Authorization for FY2001.
    1. Overview. Mr. Richard Johnson, Deputy Director and Legal Counsel, Legislative Service Bureau, presented information related to redistricting resources needed by the LSB and the four caucuses to complete the 2001 redistricting process. He emphasized that computer software and technical consulting services are necessary for the LSB and the four caucuses to fulfill their separate and distinct roles in the redistricting process. Software is needed by the LSB to associate the Census Bureau population data with the correct geographical data and to efficiently draw redistricting plans. Caucus staff need software and technical assistance to allow the analyses of LSB redistricting plans from a political perspective. The technical assistance is needed to associate the correct demographic information, other than population data, with the correct geographical data in order to allow the caucus staffs to analyze any LSB plans or their own plans from a political perspective.
         Mr. Johnson referred to the budget document distributed to the members, pointing out that the document differentiates between essential services and optional services. The document is based on conversations with the vendor/technical consultant for Phase 2 and contains some cost estimates which are well delineated and other cost estimates which are less well defined or are subject to negotiation.
    2. LSB Expenses. Regarding redistricting expenses for the LSB, the cost estimate for essential software and support, technical consulting, data preparation, and training is $103,876. The cost estimate includes the provision of specialized software to comply with the peculiar Iowa compactness measurements required by statute. Computer hardware and workstation costs have or will be absorbed by the regular budget of the LSB. The LSB cost estimate for one essential LSB employee for the redistricting process is $50,000. This would allow the LSB to have three employees in place to actually draw plans and to do the legal and technical work necessary to accomplish redistricting. Other LSB resources provided for in the regular budget of the LSB, such as clerical and proofreading assistance, would be devoted to the redistricting effort to assist the three full-time redistricting employees.
         The LSB would also employ a temporary drafter/staffer for the 2001 session to replace Ed Cook, who has been assigned to work full-time on the redistricting project. The LSB would absorb the cost of the temporary drafter/staffer in its regular budget.
    3. Senate and House and Public Access Expenses. Regarding redistricting expenses for the Senate and House of Representatives and for public access to redistricting, the cost estimate for essential software and support, technical consulting, data preparation, and training is $114,408.
      1. Hardware Costs. For computer hardware not already obtained by the Senate and House and for potential public access, the cost estimate is approximately $10,000 for one 850 processor for public access ($2,500), for five 21" monitors ($5,000 at $1,000 each), and for five color printers for maps ($2,500 at $500 each). The hardware expense would not be included in a vendor/technical consultant contract but payments would be made directly to the supplier of the hardware.
      2. Public Access and Local Redistricting Costs. Potential public access costs if the Internet were used to allow the public to access, manipulate, and transmit redistricting data, including the drawing of maps, are very tenuously estimated at $37,100. Such a public access system, depending on its sophistication, might also be useful to the political subdivisions of the state which are required to complete their local redistricting efforts following the state's congressional and legislative redistricting. The Secretary of State's office is very interested in fulfilling its obligation of assisting and actually approving local political subdivision redistricting through the use of some kind of enhanced geographic information system which would contain the geographical and population data used by the Legislature and which could be accessed at a reasonable cost by the local political subdivisions. Some members stated that it would be beneficial to assist smaller cites in their local redistricting efforts. Computerization sophistication, as measured by the Y2K studies of local political subdivisions, was mentioned as a resource for gauging political subdivisions' readiness to use computer technology to perform local redistricting tasks. Mr. Rudicil stated that the assistance would need to include census block level data that would allow the local political subdivisions to accomplish their drawing of new boundaries for local election districts and wards. Although actually drawing plans via the Internet may be very slow and unsatisfactory, local political subdivisions and the Secretary of State's office would be greatly aided if enhanced use of computer tools could help ensure that the local political subdivisions have been provided and are using the correct Census Bureau geography and population data.
           Ten years ago only paper maps and associated data were readily made available to the public and only proposed congressional redistricting plans were submitted by the public. Electronic redistricting data, where available, was also sold at cost to the public. Caucus staff access to the redistricting system's functionalities 10 years ago allowed members of the public, at the discretion of the caucus staffs, to have access to the analytical results of the system's functionalities. Discussion by the members centered around whether the public should be provided simple redistricting data access or some sort of redistricting data access linked to some kind of software capable of manipulating the redistricting data. Questions also were voiced as to whether certain monetary charges should be applicable to members of the public accessing certain redistricting information. Ten years ago the Legislature was sued by a private party for access to both redistricting data and associated software. The court held in that case that the software provided by the vendor/technical consultant contained protected trade secrets and that the vendor/technical consultant and the Legislature were not required to provide the software to the private party under the public records law.
      3. Additional Optional Services. The cost estimate for the provision of optional services relating to preparation of 1999 population estimates, for use in Iowa's redistricting system prior to receipt of the 2000 population statistics from the Census Bureau, is $4,430. The cost estimate for conducting analyses of multi-race and sampling (adjusted) population data is $25,000. One member of the Committee expressed an interest in receiving these optional services. A legislative employee stated that it is most important for caucus staff to become familiar with the redistricting system functionalities before the first plan is released so that as soon as the release occurs the caucus staff can use the functionalities to analyze the plan. The 1999 population estimates would be closer to the actual 2000 population data and would provide for a more accurate analysis than using earlier population data. However, the real value of having the redistricting system in place may be to learn to use its analytical functionalities rather than to manipulate closer population estimates to the forthcoming 2000 population data.
           The cost estimate for geocoding Iowa's voter registration database is $44,245.68. This is an optional service which would disaggregate election results by voting age population. Such geocoding might be beneficial to the Secretary of State's office in electronically tracking registered voters.
           The cost estimate for up to four months of on-site technical support is $63,074. A contract could provide for a shorter duration of on-site technical support and the cost would decrease proportionally. Ten years ago approximately one month of on-site technical support was provided by the vendor/technical consultant.
    4. Vendor/Technical Consultant Requirements. The Committee discussed the various essential and optional services which might be provided by a vendor/technical consultant. Mr. Johnson provided information regarding other vendors and technical consultants with whom the LSB has communicated over the years. He stressed that the entire project requires both a vendor who can provide the needed software and also a technical consultant who can associate the separate data elements (geography and population only) for the LSB and the larger array of data elements (including a variety of demographic information other than population data) for the Senate and House.
  6. Census 2000 Data and Geographic Products.
       Ms. Bolender directed the Committee's attention to a letter sent to Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack and to legislative leaders. The letter is the U.S. Census Bureau's solicitation of requests from the Iowa General Assembly to receive, at no cost, Census 2000 Data and Geographic Products. Mr. Sandy Scharf recommended that paper maps generally not be requested but that several CD-ROMs and at least one DVD version of the products be requested for the LSB and the four caucuses. The consensus of the members of the Committee was that the LSB, after consultation with the four caucus staffs, should respond to the request for the Iowa General Assembly.

IV. Report to the Service Committee.

The Committee deliberated the issue of a recommendation from Ms. Bolender on going forward with negotiations with a vendor/technical consultant. The Committee approved, by voice vote, on a motion made by Senator Kibbie and seconded by Senator Angelo, a recommendation to the Service Committee that the Service Committee recommend to the Legislative Council the approval of the negotiation and entering into of a contract between the Legislative Council and a vendor/technical consultant for Phase 3 of redistricting and that the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Legislative Council, in consultation with the Minority Leaders, be authorized to approve the final contract, after continuing consultation with the members of the Redistricting Committee. The expenses of the contract would be payable by making an adjustment to the LSB budget for 2000-2001 for LSB expenses and by making available moneys from the joint account of the Legislative Council for Senate, House, and public access expenses. The Committee also approved a recommendation that the LSB be authorized to hire one additional employee for redistricting for the 2000-2001 budget year at a maximum cost of $50,000 which would require an adjustment to the LSB budget, that the LSB be authorized to hire a replacement drafter/staffer for Ed Cook, who has been reassigned to the redistricting project, the cost of which would be paid from the regular LSB budget, and the purchase of any additional hardware necessary for the Iowa General Assembly to complete redistricting, which is estimated to be somewhere around $10,000 and which would be payable as an expense of the joint account of the Legislative Council.

V. Attachment.

The following attachment is included with these minutes: (Not available on web site)

VI. Materials Distributed to the Redistricting Committee.

The following materials were distributed to the members of the Committee and are on file in the Legislative Service Bureau:

  1. Redistricting Quick Takes
  2. 1989-1991 Preparations for Redistricting
  3. Redistricting Timetable for 2000-2001
  4. Redistricting Phase 3 Budget Authorization for FY2001
  5. Redistricting Issues
  6. Census 2000 Redistricting Data Program letter to Governor Vilsack
  7. Iowa Code chapter 42, Redistricting General Assembly and Congressional Districts
  8. 1981 and 1991 newspaper clippings relating to redistricting

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