Bill Summary for H 426 (2021-2022)

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Summary date: 

Mar 25 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 426 (Public) Filed Thursday, March 25, 2021
Intro. by Harrison, Morey, Martin, Reives.

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Bill summary

Part I.

Subject to voter approval at the November 2022 general election, enacts Section 25 to Article II of the NC Constitution to charge the NCGA with establishing by law an independent process to revise the electoral districts for Congress and the NCGA after return of the decennial census, subject to the following limitations. Prohibits NCGA involvement in revising electoral districts. Requires each NCGA member and US House member to represent equal numbers of inhabitants, as possible. Mandates districts to consist of contiguous territory. Prohibits division of a county for NCGA districts to the extent practicable and consistent with federal law. Mandates that the districts remain unaltered until the return of another decennial census. Grants adopted electoral districts legislative force and effect. Makes conforming changes to Sections 3 and 5 of Article II to charge the NCGA with establishing an independent process to revise legislative districts and the apportionment of legislators among those districts. Makes these constitutional amendments effective upon certification.

Enacts Article 1B, Redistricting, to GS Chapter 120. Sets forth 14 defined terms. Establishes the NC Citizen Redistricting Commission (Commission), charged with preparing preliminary, proposed, and alternative plans for legislative and congressional apportionment and to adopt final plans for the purpose of nominating and electing legislative and congressional members. Details Commission member eligibility, including residency and voter registration requirements, and a number of disqualifications, among them: contributing more than $2,000 to any candidate for public office, having been a staff member or legal counsel to the NCGA, having served in any public office in the preceding 10 years, having held any political appointment, and having been a member of an organization that advocates overthrowing or attacking any governmental body in the US. Bars a person having served as a member of the Commission from holding any public office for three years following termination of service. Details member application procedures, including applying to the State Auditor with relevant information and disclosures for eligibility review, then to the Human Relations Commission for review and submission of a diverse group of up to 60 applicants to the NCGA, as specified, with eight legislatively appointed members from the pool of candidates and seven randomly selected members by the Human Relations Commission from the pool of candidates. Sets terms at 10 years. Details other parameters of the Commission, including appointment of a chair, removal from office, vacancies, and reimbursement of member expenses. Provides for a $1,200 stipend for each month the Commission meets. Details Commission staffing and the application of open meetings and public records laws.

Enumerates nine criteria that all redistricting plans must meet, including electoral impartiality and minimization of the number of split communities of interest, as defined. Provides for Commission adoption of preliminary, proposed, alternative, and final plans depending on appointed member affiliations. Directs the State Auditor to submit to the Commission a list of qualified persons who can serve as a special master, who must draw and submit a plan which the Commission must adopt in the event a plan cannot be adopted pursuant to the statute. Provides for appointment of the special master by the Commission, depending on appointed member affiliations. Requires adoption of all plans by October 1 following each federal census. Details the maximum time line the Commission must follow in adoption of a plan, which provides for public hearings following receipt of data from the Census Bureau; release of preliminary plans to the public and further public hearings; release of proposed plans, alternative plans and summaries; and the Commission holding a vote to adopt final plans, or selection of a special master to prepare, release and present a plan to the Commission that the Commission must adopt. Provides for extensions for good cause, as specified. 

Mandates the Commission hold a minimum of 20 public hearings across the State, requiring providing the seven enumerated resources for public input, including sufficient time to review the plan, access to demographic data and mapping software.

Authorizes the NCGA to assign to the Commission the duty to prepare district plans for local government if their governing board or an appropriate court so requests. 

Provides for Commission member terms to begin on January 1, 2023, and conclude on June 30, 2030, for any redistricting that might occur pursuant to GS 120-2.4 based on data from the 2020 federal census.

Makes the above statutory and uncodified provisions effective January 1, 2023, subject to voter approval of the constitutional amendments set forth in this Part.

Part II.

Makes conforming changes to GS 120-2.3 regarding judgments invalidating apportionment or redistricting acts.

Makes conforming changes to GS 120-2.4, requiring a court to grant the Commission two weeks' time to remedy any defects a court has identified in a plan apportioning or redistricting legislative or congressional districts prior to the court imposing its own substitute plan. Makes further conforming changes.

Repeals GS 120-133 which provides for the confidentiality of NCGA redistricting communications until plans become law.

Effective January 1, 2023, subject to voter approval of the constitutional amendments set forth in Part I of the act.