As the 2010 Census nears there has been concern that Iowa could lose one of its five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. "It does appear with most (population) projections that we will go from five seats to four after the census," District 4 Congressman Tom Latham told the Pilot-Tribune this week.
Latham formerly represented the Storm Lake area, however, Iowa's Congressional map was significantly changed in 2000's round of redistricting and his Alexander home wound up in the 4th District.
Fifth District fellow Republican Congressman Steve King says he's heard a number of analysts boldly predict that Iowa would lose a seat and he says others have said they're not certain. "I want to see the numbers before I draw a conclusion," he says.
King expressed a concern about not everyone included in the census is a U.S. Citizen. King says the census does not count just "U.S. Citizens," but persons in the United States including non-citizens and illegal aliens. King says he supports an amendment, introduced in 2007, that reads "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the number of persons in each State who are citizens of the United States." King said if the amendment passes it may mean loss of seats for states like Florida, Texas and California and says hopefully other states like Iowa would gain a seat or keep all current seats intact. King says every single U.S. Citizen needs to be counted in the census and said that only U.S. Citizens should be represented in Congress.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, "Remaking the Political Landscape - The Impact of Illegal and Legal Immigration on Congressional Apportionment," a study was done after the 2000 census to measure illegal immigration's impact. The study relied on state estimates prepared by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), estimates indicated that almost seven million illegal immigrants were counted in the census.
The report found that illegal immigration has an impact on how seats are redistributed in the house. The study found that with the presence of illegal aliens in other states meant a loss of one house seat in Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi in 2000. It also found that the presence of all foreign-born persons in 2000 whether they were naturalized citizens, non-citizens or illegal aliens redistributed 16 seats, which is up from a redistribution of 12 seats in 1990.
King says if there is a reapportionment a three person non-partisan legislative service bureau team would redraw the congressional lines that are consistent with Iowa law. The three member team would go into a room secretly and redraw the map to get the best balance, he said. Once a map is produced it is taken to the Senate and voted on and if it doesn't pass, another map is drawn. The second map would be voted on if that one is turned down as well it is turned over to the court system.
Latham says he figures after census figures are determined, the maps will be created and during the 2012 election if reapportionment is necessary four representatives instead of five could be on the ballot. "It's obviously one less representative, it will be more difficult and there will be less influence in the house which is not positive. Iowa has continued to lose seats the last 60 to 80 years," he says.
The two leader say if it does turn out that Iowa loses a seat they and their staff would be do what they could to reach out to a larger district. King currently serves 32 counties with five outreach offices across the district. Latham serves 28 counties with three outreach offices.
King says it's not uncommon for states to have larger districts. Currently Republican Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith serves 68 and a half counties. Montana and South Dakota are represented by only one congressional district. "If they can handle that, Iowans will be able to handle it," King says.