Bill Summary for H 49 (2015-2016)

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Summary date: 

Feb 4 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 49 (Public) Filed Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Intro. by Jeter, Howard, Michaux, Tine.

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Bill summary

Identical to S 28, filed on 2/4/15.

Proposes to amend Article II of the North Carolina State Constitution, effective January 1, 2028, adding a new section 25 to establish a nine-member Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). Provides that the IRC, beginning with the return of the 2030 national census, is to present to the General Assembly three redistricting plans for each of the following: (1) revising the state's senate districts, (2) revising the state's House of Representatives districts, and (3) electing members of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress. Provides that if the General Assembly fails to adopt one of each of the three redistricting plans for state Senate districts, state House of Representative districts, and US House of Representatives districts within 120 days of receiving the plans, the IRC is authorized to adopt one of the redistricting plans for each respective body by majority vote.

Proposed Section 25 of Article II of the NC Constitution provides that the membership of the IRC is to consist of nine persons: (1) two from different political parties appointed by the Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court; (2) three (of which no more than two may be from the same political party) appointed by the Governor; (3) one each appointed by the Speaker of the NC House of Representatives, and the leader in the House of Representatives from the political party with the next highest or equal number of members as the party of the Speaker; and (4) one each appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, and the leader in the Senate of the political party with the next highest or equal number of members as the party of the President Pro Tempore. 

Makes conforming changes amending Section 3 (senate districts; apportionments of senators) and Section 5 (representative districts; apportionment of representatives) of Article ll of the North Carolina Constitution to provide that the IRC, created in this act, is authorized to revise Senate and House districts and apportionment of senators and representatives among those districts.  Becomes effective January 1, 2030.

Directs that the proposed amendments to Article II of the NC Constitution be submitted to the qualified voters of the state at the November 2016 general election. Provides that the ballot present the question as to whether voters are "for" or "against" the proposed amendments.

Provides that if the proposed constitutional amendments are approved by the qualified voters, then a new Article 12B, "Redistricting," is added to GS Chapter 163, enacting new GS 163-133 and GS 163-134, effective January 1, 2028. Provides additional rules and guidelines regarding the membership of and operation of the IRC.

Proposed GS 163-133 provides that appointees to the IRC may not have held elective office or been a candidate for elective office for a period of four years prior to and after their service on the IRC. Requires that eligible persons for appointment to the IRC must be North Carolina residents. Provides that if there are two or more parties other than the Speaker's party or the President Pro Tempore's party with equal membership, the leaders in each chamber of the tied parties other than the party of the Speaker and the President Pro Tempore are to draw lots to determine which is to make the appointment. Declares that the appointing officers must take into account the advisability of having the IRC reflect the state's geographic, gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in the making of their appointments.  Includes criteria regarding the term of office for IRC members, filling vacancies, and electing a chair. Houses the IRC in the Legislative Services Office and requires the IRC to retain independent staff under contract to prepare redistricting plans. Prohibits providing the staff any instruction as to the content of the plans other than to follow the guidelines in Section 25 of Article II of the state constitution.

Proposed GS 163-134 provides for the generating of state legislative redistricting plans and congressional redistricting plans by the IRC as specified in the amendments to the NC Constitution. Requires the IRC to adopt its plans no later than October 1 of the year following a national decennial census. Prohibits the IRC from considering as part of the plans the political affiliation of voters, voting data from past elections, location of incumbents' residences, or demographic data from sources other than the census. Provides that racial and ethnic data may be used only to comply with the US Constitution and federal election laws. Requires 45 days of public comment on a plan before it is submitted to the General Assembly.

Allows the General Assembly, upon request, to assign the IRC to prepare districting plans for counties, cities, town, special districts and other governmental subdivisions.

Except as otherwise indicated, this act is effective when it becomes law.