Reynolds: Special session will focus on redistricting, not policy

Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed the Association of Business and Industry conference on June 9. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch).

When lawmakers return to the Capitol for a special session later this summer, Gov. Kim Reynolds says she expects their primary goal to be redistricting, rather than using the extra time to pass lingering policy bills.

“That’s going to be the focus, to get that done in a timely manner so that we know what the districts are so people can make choices and move forward,” Reynolds told reporters at an Association of Business and Industry conference on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed Census data, rendering lawmakers unable to create new district maps in the spring. Now, lawmakers are in a race against the clock, as Iowa’s constitution dictates that the Supreme Court must step in if legislators and the governor do not submit a plan by Sept. 15.

Reynolds said Wednesday that a special session is “probably going to happen” when Iowa receives the Census data. House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, anticipated the session would happen sometime in August.

Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, have also said that redistricting will be the priority of the special session. But they, like Reynolds, did not rule out the possibility that other bills could come up.

“Redistricting is by far the most important thing we’re going to do there,” Whitver said. “Is it the only thing? I don’t know that.”

Reynolds did not identify any specific policy issues she would want to see during the summer session. 

Lawmakers and LGBTQ advocates have both flagged Reynolds’s proposal to ban transgender girls from playing girls’ sports as an issue likely to return eventually. The issue took center stage in the final weeks of the legislative session after Reynolds touted the possibility on Fox News, but neither chamber introduced legislation on the issue.

When asked Wednesday if a restriction on transgender athletes could come up in August, Reynolds reiterated that redistricting was the priority.

Katie Akin
Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.