Bill Summary for H 674 (2017-2018)

Summary date: 

Apr 10 2017

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
House Bill 674 (Public) Filed Monday, April 10, 2017
AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH AN INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION.
Intro. by John.

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Bill summary

Sections 1 & 2

Subject to voter approval, amends Article II, Sections 3 and 5, of the NC Constitution, directing the Independent Redistricting Commission, beginning as soon as practical, to revise the Senate and Representative districts and the apportionment of Senators and Representatives among those district after the return of every decennial census of population take by order of Congress. Requires the revision of districts and apportionment of Senators and Representatives so that the districts, to the extent possible, meet three goals: (1) the goal of compactness, to avoid elongated and irregularly shaped districts; (2) the goal of one person, one vote to ensure each voter's vote; and (3) the goal of minimizing the number of split counties, municipalities, and other communities of interest. Requires all districts to be contiguous, and prohibits precincts from being split. Deletes previous provisions that required the General Assembly to conduct the revisions of districts and the apportionment of Senators and Representatives subject to specified requirements. Effective beginning with the redistricting done upon the return of the 2020 decennial census.

Section 3

Subject to voter approval, adds new Section 25 to Article II of the NC Constitution, establishing the Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission). Sets out membership of the Commission, consisting of seven persons, all of retired judges and justices, appointed by the Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, the Governor, the President Pro Tempore, and the Speaker of the House, as specified. Provides other parameters for the appointment of initial and subsequent members of the Commission, including requiring the appointing officers to take into account the advisability of having the Commission reflect the State's geographic, gender, racial, and ethnic diversity. Provides that the term of initial members is until successors are appointed and qualified. Provides that subsequent members are to take office the first day of July each year ending in the number zero, and continue until successors are adopted. Sets parameters for filling vacancies and electing a chair. Requires that NC residency is required to be eligible for appointment to the Commission. Prohibits any person who has served as a member of the Commission from being eligible to hold any elective State office for four years after termination of service on the Commission. Defines public office to mean any partisan or nonpartisan office filled by election by the people on a statewide, county, municipal, or district basis. 

Directs the Commission to adopt plans for revising the Senate districts and Representative districts, in accordance with Sections 3 and 5 of Article II as amended. Establishes that these plans have the same force and effect of acts of the General Assembly. Expressly prohibits the General Assembly from adopting any legislative district plan. Further provides that the Commission is responsible for adopting a district plan for election of members of the House of Representatives of US Congress. Expressly prohibits the General Assembly from adopting any district plan for election of members of the US House of Representatives. Requires the Commission to adopt district plans by October 1 of the year following each decennial census of population taken by order of Congress. Requires a minimum 45-day period for public comment on a plan before it is finally adopted. Prohibits the Commission from considering the following in preparing or adopting its plans: (1) the political affiliation of voters; (2) voting data from previous elections; (3) the location of incumbents' residences; and (4) demographic data from sources other than the US Bureau of the Census, with racial and ethnic data only being used for the purposes of compliance with the US Constitution and laws enacted pursuant thereto. 

Provides that the Commission is to adopt a new district plan in the event that a plan it has adopted is held invalid. Directs the Commission to consider the relevant requirements of the US Constitution and acts of Congress, and comply with the NC Constitution as enunciated by the NC Supreme Court. Permits the General Assembly to by law assign the Commission the duty to adopt districting and redistricting plans for any county, city, town, special district, and other governmental subdivision if the governing board of the unit or a court of competent jurisdiction so requests. 

Effective January 1, 2020.

Sections 4 and 5

Makes conforming changes to Section 22(5) of Article II of the NC Constitution, effective January 1, 2021, and Section 8 of Article VI of the NC Constitution, effective January 1, 2020.

Sections 6 and 7

Sets out the question to be used on ballots for voter approval of the constitutional amendments provided in Sections 1-5 of this act at the statewide election on November 8, 2017.

Section 8

Effective only if the proposed constitutional amendments are approved by voters, enacts new Article 12B to GS Chapter 163, Redistricting. Sets out that the Independent Redistricting Commission is administratively housed in the UNC School of Government. Authorizes the Commission to retain independent staff under contract to prepare the redistricting plans covered by Section 25 of Article II of the NC Constitution. Prohibits the staff from providing any instructions as to the content of plans that are being drafted for consideration by the General Assembly other than to follow the guidelines set out in Section 25 of Article II.

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