AN ACT TO AMEND THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH AN INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION.
Subject to voter approval at the general election in November 2018, amends Article II, Sections 3 and 5, of the NC Constitution, directing the Independent Redistricting Commission (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 taken 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. Requires the Commission to present the General Assembly with three plans. If the General Assembly fails to enact one of those plans within 120 days, requires the Commission to adopt one of the plans, with the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly. 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.
Subject to voter approval at the general election in November 2018, adds new Section 25 to Article II of the NC Constitution, establishing the nine-member Commission. Appointments to the Commission are to be made by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the leader in the House with the next highest or equal number of House members as the Speaker's party, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the leader in the Senate of the party with the next highest or equal number of Senators as the President Pro Tempore's party. Prohibits a person who has served as a member of the Commission from holding any elective public office for four years after terminating service on the Commission. Effective January 1, 2019.
Effective January 1, 2019, and effective only if voters approve the constitutional amendments set out above, enacts new Part 2A, Redistricting, to Article 20 of GS Chapter 163A.
New GS 163A-1080 requires membership of the Commission to comply with the requirements set out in new Section 25 of Article II of the Constitution. Provides for appointments when there are two or more parties other than the Speaker's party in the House, or the President Pro Tempore's party in the Senate, with equal membership. Sets out procedures and considerations for the appointing officers in the appointment of Commission members. Provides for terms of office, the filling of vacancies, the election of a Chair, and staffing of the Commission. Limits eligibility for appointment to the Commission to persons who are residents of NC and have not held elective public office or been a candidate for elective public office in the four years prior to commencement of service on the Commission.
New GS 163A-1081 sets out parameters for the presentation and adoption of legislative and congressional redistricting plans as follows.
Requires the Commission to present to the General Assembly three plans for revising the Senate districts and three plans for revising the House districts. Provides that each of the bills must be voted on under a procedure or rule permitting no amendments except those that are purely corrective. Requires any bill approved on third reading by the first house in which it is considered to be expeditiously brought to a vote in the second house under a similar procedure or rule. Requires the General Assembly to adopt one Senate plan and one House plan presented by the Commission within 120 days of receiving the plans. Requires the Commission to adopt one of the plans submitted to the General Assembly by majority vote if none of the bills embodying a plan submitted by the Commission is approved by the General Assembly within 120 days of receipt, which will have the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly.
Requires the Commission to present to the General Assembly three district plans for the election of members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress. Provides for identical parameters for the consideration and adoption of a congressional plan as described above for legislative plans, including the requirement of the Commission to adopt a district plan by majority vote if none of the bills embodying a plan submitted by the Commission is approved by the General Assembly within 120 days of receipt, which will have the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly.
Establishes that district plans must be adopted no later than October 1 of the year following the decennial census of population taken by order of Congress. Requires the Commission to ensure there is a minimum period of 45 days of public comment on a plan before it is submitted to the General Assembly. When preparing or adopting a plan, prohibits the Commission from considering the location of incumbents' residences or demographic data from sources other than the US Bureau of Census. Limits the Commission's use of Census racial and ethnic data for purposes of compliance with the US Constitution and laws enacted pursuant to the Constitution. Requires the Commission to ensure that districts are contiguous and do not create an unfair advantage for one party over the other.
Provides for the adoption of a new district plan as required by new GS 163A-1081 in the event that an adopted plan is held invalid. Requires the General Assembly and the Commission to take into account all relevant requirements of the US Constitution and acts of Congress in adopting a plan, as well as comply with the NC Constitution. Expressly authorizes the General Assembly to assign to the Commission the duty to prepare 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.