Bill Summary for H 827 (2019-2020)

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Summary date: 

Apr 17 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 827 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Intro. by Harrison, Morey, Holley, Martin.

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Bill summary

Enacts Article 1B, Redistricting, to GS Chapter 120. Sets forth 13 defined terms applicable to the Article. Establishes the NC Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) charged with preparing preliminary, proposed, and alternative legislative and congressional plans, adopting final legislative and congressional plans, and presenting adopted plans to the General Assembly for enactment. Sets out eligibility requirements for residents to apply for membership on the Commission, including (1) having been a registered voter of the state with the same or no affiliation for at least three years prior to service; (2) having not contributed more than $2,000 to any candidate for public office; (3) is not a relative of a legislator, is not a legislative political appointee, is not a staff member or legal counsel of the General Assembly, and is not an official of a political party or a consultant or legal counsel to a political party; (4) having never served in public office or held a political appointment, served as an elected or appointed officer of a political party, body, or committee at any level of government, served as an officer, employee or paid consultant of a political party or body or of the campaign or campaign committee of a candidate for public office, or been employed by Congress; and (5) is not a legislative staffer, lobbyist, or liaison. Prohibits members from holding public office for three years after termination of service.

Permits eligible citizens to apply to the State Auditor for Commission membership with an attestation to eligibility. Requires the State Auditor to verify eligibility and submit eligible applications to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Directs the AOC to review the applications and submit a diverse group of up to 60 applications to the General Assembly and the Governor, as specified, with no more than 20 applications per party affiliation or no affiliation. Provides for the appointment of 15 members to the Commission from the candidate pool, with appointment of nine members by the President Pro Tempore, the Senate minority leader, the Speaker, the House minority leader, the Governor, and the remaining six members appointed by majority vote of the nine appointed members. Provides for a ten-year term beginning on July 1 of each year ending in zero. Requires rotation of the Commission chair every six months, prohibiting consecutive chairs in the same political party. Provides for member removal upon failure to comply with GS 120-4.54(2) concerning submitting written descriptions of communications regarding the Commission outside of public meetings. Provides for vacancies. Establishes a $1,200 stipend for Commission members for each month the Commission meets. Provides for member expenses. 

Houses the Commission in the Legislative Services Office and requires the Office to provide administrative support to the Commission. Provides for the powers and authority of the Commission. Requires the Commission to retain independent staff under contract, hired upon Commission vote as specified, and limited to one-third balanced political affiliations as provided. Limits staff eligibility to persons that would be eligible to be a Commission member.

Subjects the Commission to the Public Records Act and Open Meetings Law, except that the following provisions govern in the case of conflict. Prohibits the Commission and staff from discussing Commission business outside public meetings. Requires a Commission member who discusses Commission business outside public meetings to place in the Commission's public records any violating written communication and a written description of any violating oral communication, as specified. Requires the Commission to give 14 days' notice prior to any meeting in which votes will be taken.

Directs the Commission to prepare preliminary, proposed, and alternative legislative and congressional plans. Gives goals for the plans in order of priority, including: one person, one vote; compliance with state and federal law; legislative districts within 5% of the ideal population and congressional districts within 0.1% of the ideal population; minimizing split counties; contiguity; minimizing split counties and split municipalities; compactness; electoral impartiality; and minimizing the number of split communities of interest. 

Requires the Commission to adopt final legislative and congressional plans by vote of at least nine members, with at least three members of each political party and nonaffiliated members, and submit adopted plans to the General Assembly. In the event the Commission cannot adopt a plan, the Commission must appoint a qualified special master from a list submitted by the State Auditor, as specified. Requires the special master to draw a final plan and submit the plan and rationale to the Commission, which is required to adopt the special master's plan. Details a maximum time line for the Commission to follow prior to adopting district plans by October 1 of the year following each federal census, which includes timelines for required public hearings, public review of proposed plans, and adoption of plans by the Commission. Details requirements for public hearings and public input during the plan adoption process, including requiring a minimum of 20 public hearings across the state and the provision of seven specified resources to the public.

Details delivery of adopted plans and related materials to the Senate and House Principal Clerks. Requires enactment of adopted plans of the Commission, and provides for the Commission to deliver subsequent plans adopted in the same prescribed manner as the initial adopted plans in the event a Commission adopted plan fails any reading. 

Requires a new district plan to be adopted using the same process and timeline in the event any plan adopted and enacted is held to be invalid, and allows for modification if necessary regarding the timing and nature of the holding. Authorizes the General Assembly to by law assign the Commission the duty of preparing districting and redistricting plans for any political subdivision upon request of the governing board of the unit or a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

Effective January 1, 2020.