FOCUS • The Iowa legislature’s function and how it is organized • Iowa legislature’s structure • Iowa legislative process • Members of the Iowa Legislature.
Terms to know • Legislature – a body of persons who are empowered to make, change, or repeal the laws • Legislator – a member of a legislative body (law-making body) • Legislate – the process of lawmaking • General Assembly – official name of Iowa’s legislative body • Bicameral – two houses of legislative body
Terms to know • Bill – proposed statute presented to a legislature, but not yet enacted or passed into law • Legislation – a law or a body of laws enacted
Functions of Legislators • Lawmaking • Constituent service • Ombudsperson • Casework • Representing • Oversight • Public education • Conflict resolution
Functions of Legislators • Constituent service —individual members of Iowa Legislature are expected by their constituents to act as brokers between private citizens and the imposing, often faceless state government: • Ombudsperson —a person who hears and investigates complaints by private individuals against public officials or agencies. • Casework —personal work for constituents by members of Iowa Legislature. • i.e., explaining the meaning of particular bills to people who may be affected by themor advocating for a citizen as they struggle with a government procedure
Functions of Legislators • Representing — • as a trustee—who uses personal judgment. • as an instructed delegate —who uses the constituents’ judgment. • politico—a combination of both trustee and instructed delegate roles.
Functions of Legislators • Oversight —It is the process by which the Iowa Legislature follows up on the laws it has enacted to ensure that they are being enforced and administered in the way it intended: • i.e. committee hearings and investigations.
Functions of Legislators • Public education—this is exercised whenever the Iowa Legislature has public hearings, exercises oversight over the bureaucracy, or engages in committee and floor debates on such major issues • Conflict resolution—Where Iowa Legislature is resolving conflicts within Iowan society.
0 Geographic Districts In Both Chambers Of The Legislature • There are 150 seats in the Iowa House of Representatives and 50 single member districts in the state senate. • Iowa House of Representatives = 150 members • Iowa Senate = 50 members • DISTRICT MAPS • https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Resources/Mapping/Districts/legislative.aspx?year=2013
0 Geographic Districts • Legislators are elected into single-member districts, where each legislator represents a separate, distinct election district. • As held in the 1964, USSC case, Reynolds v. Sims (“one person, one vote”), the Court held that both chambers of a state legislature must be apportioned so that all districts are equal in population. • Following every 10 year census, each state must undertake a redistricting process to correct for changes in the populations of the districts. • Redistricting: the drawing and redrawing of the boundaries of legislative districts. • Watch short video on redistricting: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/thenews/thegov/story.php?id=19491&package_id=634 • Can be political!! Read about Iowa’s 2011 redistricting process: http://www.fairvote.org/iowa-s-laudable-redistricting-process-and-the-super-district-alternative
0 Geographic Districts (Cont’d) • The U.S. Voting Rights Act (1965) declares that states with a history of electoral discrimination against minority groups must preclear redistricting plans with the U.S. Justice Department or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. • UPDATE: In August, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act.
0 Limiting Geographic Districts:Through Gerrymandering • Gerrymandering occurs if the lines are redrawn to give a certain party, faction, or ethnic group an advantage Interested in trying it out yourself? Play the Redistricting game: http://www.redistrictinggame.org/index.php?pg=resourceguide
0 Gerrymandering: 3 Techniques • Dispersing / Scattering/Cracking: • Concentrated/Packing: • Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing:
0 Cracking(Dispersing) • To diffuse a concentrated political or ethnic minority among several districts so that its votes in any one district are negligible.
0 Packing (Concentrated) • Concentrated/Packing occurs if minority’s numbers are great enough when diffused to affect the outcome of elections in several districts. That is, the minority is concentrated in one district to ensure that it will influence only one election and that its influence in the whole legislature will be minimal.
0 Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing • Incumbent Gerrymandering/Pairing redistricts two or more incumbent legislators’ residences or political bases so that both are in the same district, thereby ensuring that one will be defeated.
0 Formal Qualifications For Membership In The Legislature Iowa Senate • A U. S. citizen • At least 25 years of age • Have lived in Iowa for one year and lived in the district for 60 days. Iowa House • A U.S. citizen • At least 21 years of age • Have lived in Iowa for one year and lived in the district for 60 days.