Constitutional amendment; apportionment, criteria for legislative and congressional districts. (SJ274)

Introduced By

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon) with support from co-patron Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); apportionment; criteria for legislative and congressional districts; Virginia Citizens Redistricting Commission. Provides for the establishment of the Virginia Citizens Redistricting Commission (the Commission), a 10-member commission responsible for establishing legislative and congressional districts following a decennial census. A selection committee consisting of five retired judges of a circuit court in Virginia, selected by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the minority leader in the House of Delegates, and the majority and minority leaders in the Senate from a list compiled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, is tasked with adopting a process by which registered Virginia voters may apply to serve on the Commission and selecting from the applicants a list of 22 candidates. The amendment requires five of the candidates to be voters who affiliate with the political party receiving the highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, five candidates to be voters who affiliate with the political party receiving the next highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, and 12 candidates to be voters who do not affiliate with any political party. The Speaker of the House of Delegates, the minority leader in the House of Delegates, and the majority and minority leaders in the Senate then strike names from the list until there is the final list of 10 Commission members, three of whom affiliate with the political party receiving the highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, three of whom affiliate with the political party receiving the next highest number of votes for governor at the immediately preceding gubernatorial election, and four of whom do not affiliate with any political party. Final approval or adoption of a redistricting plan requires an affirmative vote of seven of the 10 Commission members, including at least one vote from each of the political parties represented. The amendment also contains criteria for the Commission to adhere to when drawing the legislative and congressional districts and imposes certain requirements on the Commission's activities to ensure accessibility by the public. Read the Bill »

Status

01/04/2019: Awaiting a Vote in the Privileges and Elections Committee

History

DateAction
01/04/2019Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/19 19101637D
01/04/2019Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections

Comments

Tom Long writes:

This is most important legislation in the 2019 session. It is long overdue that election districts be drawn fairly without regard to party advantage. Failure to act now to amend the constitution will mean another decade of partisan gerrymandering and all the expensive lawsuits that will follow. We can never trust the elected to leave partisanship behind when making election rules and drawing the districts. Elections belong to the people not the parties.

Sue M writes:

A majority of Virginians want redistricting reform, and this proposal, backed by OneVirginia2021, is by far the best of the bunch. It prioritizes citizen involvement and a transparent process, sets out clear criteria, and prohibits drawing of any district "to favor or disfavor any political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, or individual or entity".

JoAnn Kennedy Flanagan writes:

Delegate Ken Plum has been working on this issue since the 1980s, but it is now at a crescendo of importance for several reasons. There is currently a wave of public support for this amendment [78% in favor according to the CNU poll released in December]. So the people are ready. All states will be redistricting in the year 2020 and Virginia needs to be ready to avoid another decade of unfair districts and expensive court battles. Virginia's legislature is now relatively politically balanced, when one party is clearly in charge they are unlikely to relinquish redistricting power. And it is important to act now because progress in big data and mapping tools will make gerrymandering easier and more precise in the future. The end of gerrymandering will be a great 400th birthday gift for democracy in Virginia.

Lillian Clementi writes:

So many things are broken right now that it’s hard to know where to start. But the vote is our toolbox, and when your toolbox is broken, it’s hard to fix anything else.

SJ274 may well be the best redistricting bill we’ve ever had, and if the General Assembly doesn’t pass a first read in this session, we won’t be able to amend the Virginia constitution in time to prevent another round of gerrymandering in 2021. We should fix our toolbox now by passing this bill.

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