Bill Summaries: S673 N.C. CITIZENS REDISTRICTING COMMISSION.

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  • Summary date: Apr 22 2019 - More information

    Subject to approval by voters at the primary election in March 2020, amends Article II of the North Carolina Constitution as follows.

    Adds new Section 25 establishing the 15-member North Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) to adopt plans for the US House of Representatives and NC Senate and House of Representatives. The Commission members are divided by party affiliation, or lack thereof, into groups of five. Each group must consist of members appointed from a pool of applications submitted to the NCGA, with two selected by the President Pro Tem that share his or her political affiliation; two by the minority leader in the Senate that share his or her political affiliation; two by the Speaker of the House who share his or her political affiliation; two by the House Minority leader that share his or her affiliation; and seven randomly selected by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Sets out six eligibility requirements for members of the Commission, including not having contributed more than $2,000 to any candidates for public office, and not being a legislative staffer, lobbyist, or legislative liaison. Sets out the procedure for applying to the State Auditor to be a member of the Commission. Requires the AOC to review the eligible applications and submit a diverse group to the NCGA subject to the specified requirements. Requires the Commission to prepare and adopt plans for revising the districts and apportioning the members of districts for the US House of Representatives and the NC Senate and House. Requires that plans be adopted by a vote of at least nine members. Requires appointing a special master if a plan cannot be adopted by the Commission, with the appointment made by a vote of at least nine members. Requires the special master to draw a final plan and submit the plan and underlying rationale to the Commission, which must adopt that plan.

    Amends Section 3 concerning the election of Senators to require the Commission, after the return of every decennial census of population, to revise the senate districts and apportion the Senators among those districts, so that those district meet goals related to one person/one vote, compliance with the US Constitution, compliance with federal law, minimizing the number of split counties, continuous districts, minimizing the number of split municipalities, compactness, electoral impartiality, and minimizing the number of split communities of interest. 

    Amends Section 5 concerning the election of Representatives to require the Commission to, after the return of every decennial census of population, revise the representative districts and apportion the Representatives among those districts, so that those districts meet goals related to one person/one vote, compliance with the US Constitution, compliance with federal law, minimizing the number of split counties, continuous districts, minimizing the number of split municipalities, compactness, electoral impartiality, and minimizing the number of split communities of interest. 

    The following provisions are effective January 1, 2020, if the constitutional amendments are approved.

    Enacts new Article 1B, Redistricting, in GS Chapter 120, providing as follows.

    Sets terms of Commission membership at 10 years. Provides for a Commission Chair, which will rotate every three months; for staffing; and conditions under which a member can be removed from office. Subjects the Commission to the Public Records Act and the Open Meetings law, except (1) members of the Commission and staff must not discuss the business of the Commission outside public meetings; (2) if a member violates that prohibition, the member must place in the Commission's public records any violating written communication and a written description of any violating oral communication; and (3) the Commission must provide at least 14 days' notice before any meeting in which votes will be taken. Provides Commission members with a stipend of $1,200 each month that the Commission meets as well as travel and subsistence.

    Requires the Commission to prepare and adopt plans for revising the NC Senate and House districts and the US House districts according to the following: (1) legislative districts must comply with Sections 3 and 5 of Article II of the North Carolina Constitution; (2) Congressional districts must minimize the number of split counties, municipalities, and other communities of interest (precincts must not be split except as necessary to comply with federal law and districts must be contiguous); (3) the ideal population for a district is the number of members in a plan divided by the population of the State as reported by the decennial census (the population for a legislative district must be within 5% of the ideal population for that district, which congressional districts must each have a population that is as nearly equal as practicable to the ideal population, but in all cases within 0.1% of the ideal population for that district; (4) legislative and congressional districts must comply with the following: State and federal law; districts must be composed of convenient contiguous territory; areas which meet only at the points of adjoining corners are not contiguous; to the extent practicable, districts must be compact and districts should not bypass nearby communities for more distant communities; and the Commission must not consider electoral results, political considerations, or incumbency in the preparation of districts. Requires plans to be adopted no later than October 1 of the year following each decennial census; sets out a time line for actions taken before the adoption of a plan. Requires the Commission to hold at least 20 public hearings across the state, with 10 before a preliminary plan is released and 10 after the preliminary plan is released. Requires the Commission to provide the public with specified resources to facilitate the public's ability to provide substantive comments on any proposed plan. If a plan is held invalid, a new plan is to be adopted using the same process, modified as necessary to reflect the timing and nature of the holding. Allows the NCGA to assign to the Commission the duty to prepare districting and redistricting goals for any county, city, town special district, or other governmental subdivision if the governing board of the unit or a court so requests. 

    Repeals GS 120-133 concerning the confidentiality of redistricting communications.


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