It's not necessarily about who's drawing the lines, but rather the criteria they have to consider.
A bipartisan pair of state senators has offered legislation to take redistricting out of the hands of state lawmakers and give it to an independent, nonpartisan commission.
Sens. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, are circulating the bill for co-sponsorship.
The proposal would create a commission appointed by lawmakers to redraw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years. The commission's work would require ratification by voters and would, if passed, first be used for the 2021 redistricting.
The bill would change the state constitution, requiring passage in two straight legislative sessions and approval by voters in a referendum.
Iowa is often touted as a model for redistricting, but much of what makes Iowa's process even-keeled isn't who does the drawing, but these two simple rules set forth in state law:
4. Districts shall be reasonably compact in form, to the extent consistent with the standards established by subsections 1, 2, and 3. In general, reasonably compact districts are those which are square, rectangular, or hexagonal in shape, and not irregularly shaped, to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries. If it is necessary to compare the relative compactness of two or more districts, or of two or more alternative districting plans, the tests prescribed by paragraphs "a" and "b" shall be used.
a. Length-width compactness. The compactness of a district is greatest when the length of the district and the width of the district are equal. The measure of a district's compactness is the absolute value of the difference between the length and the width of the district. In general, the length-width compactness of a district is calculated by measuring the distance from the northernmost point or portion of the boundary of a district to the southernmost point or portion of the boundary of the same district and the distance from the westernmost point or portion of the boundary of the district to the easternmost point or portion of the boundary of the same district. The absolute values computed for individual districts under this paragraph may be cumulated for all districts in a plan in order to compare the overall compactness of two or more alternative districting plans for the state, or for a portion of the state.
b. Perimeter compactness. The compactness of a district is greatest when the distance needed to traverse the perimeter boundary of a district is as short as possible. The total perimeter distance computed for individual districts under this paragraph may be cumulated for all districts in a plan in order to compare the overall compactness of two or more alternative districting plans for the state, or for a portion of the state.
In other words, assuming that doing so doesn't violate federal law, districts need to be as close to square as is reasonable.