When we let politicians draw their own districts, voters lose.
We need a citizens commission to draw our districts: voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.
Great News from Virginia! Will NC follow their footsteps?
Virginia has passed the ballot initiative to create a redistricting commission! If approved this fall by the voters, it will become the first independent redistricting commission in the South! SJ18, a constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission, was adopted for the 2nd time, as required by the VA constitution. Support in the Senate was again nearly unanimous (38-2) but the vote was closer in the House (54-46), with strong support from Republicans but only 9 Dems voting in favor. The proposed amendment would create the VA Redistricting Commission. Its 16 members, including 8 legislators and 8 citizens, would draw Congressional and legislative districts. The legislative leaders of each party would select 4 R and 4 D legislators, while a panel of retired judges would choose the citizen members from lists submitted by the legislative leaders. The Commission would have 45 days to submit plans for the legislature and 60 for Congressional districts. Bipartisan support from both legislative and citizens members would be needed to pass plans (6/8 in each case). The legislature would vote on the plans without amendment. Additional plans would be submitted if initial ones are voted down, but if those also fail, the state Supreme Court would draw the maps. The amendment incorporates protections from the 14th amendment and the Voting Rights Act. All meetings and documents would be public and hearings would be held. The governor cannot veto the plan. Implementing legislation is expected to be adopted later.
The NC legislature has adjourned until the short session, scheduled to start Apr. 28. We're encouraging them to take up the 5 redistricting reform bills before them. The bills most likely to be discussed include H69 (Reives-McGrady), H140 (McGrady-Reives), and H648 (Warren-Hanig), the bills with the broadest bipartisan support among the 5 House redistricting reform bills. We're hoping that the Dem-led legislature in Virginia will pass their constitutional amendment for the second time, putting it on the ballot. If they do, they'll probably also adopt implementing legislation to fix some of the deficiencies in the amendment.
NC bill basics: Who draws the maps: H69: commission; H140: legislative services office (staff); H648: special master with support from commission
Who approves the maps: All three bills: legislature, which can amend the map after voting down commission/legislative services office-drawn map (H69 & H140) or consider other maps (H648)
Other features: All three bills provide important improvements to the process, transparency, and criteria, H140 also includes a constitutional amendment on these points. H140 was developed by NC4RR, an independent group led by Judge Tom Ross and Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson).
What's next? Chairman Lewis has repeated his desire to move something forward when the legislature convenes in January with the aim of adopting a bill in time for the March primary (relevant for constitutional amendments only). Here's the committee website. No sign of action in the Senate, though. Read the bills here: H69 H140 H648
What's next? Census forms--or, for most people, postcards with a link to provide your household info--will be mailed in early March, with responses due April 1. Encourage your friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers to fill in their information, which should only take a few minutes.
The upcoming legislative "short session" offers one of two remaining chances to get redistricting reform in time for the 2021 redrawing, which will start after the 2020 Census info is received in Spring 2021. The other opportunity will be the convening of the new legislature in January 2021. The legislature could adopt a Constitutional amendment in the coming Spring 2020 short session, which would go on the November ballot. If they don't act, regular legislation could still be adopted in the session beginning January 2021.
The 2021 session is really the last chance for reform, so please get out there and educate your community about the need for redistricting reform!
THANKS to everyone who joined us to collect endorsements for redistricting reform at the polls during the primaries.
Want to volunteer? Sign up to join the Fair Districts NC team under GET INVOLVED above and we'll get you set up. Be sure to endorse the 5 Principles yourself, too, if you haven't already.
Encourage friends to fill in their Census forms. Make sure your community gets all the federal funds you're entitled to!
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