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2020 SESSION

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SB 203 Redistricting; Virginia Redistricting Commission established.

Introduced by: L. Louise Lucas | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles

SUMMARY AS PASSED SENATE: (all summaries)

Redistricting; Virginia Redistricting Commission; standards and criteria. Establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission (the Commission) pursuant to Article II, Sections 6 and 6-A of the Constitution of Virginia. The Commission, tasked with establishing districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly, will consist of eight legislative commissioners and eight citizen commissioners. The legislative commissioners consist of four members of the Senate of Virginia and four members of the House of Delegates, with equal representation given to the political parties having the highest and next highest number of members in their respective houses. The citizen commissioners are chosen by a selection committee consisting of five retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia, from lists submitted to the selection committee by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate. The bill contains eligibility requirements for the citizen commissioners, including restrictions on holding or having held partisan national or state public office. As part of the application process for service on the Commission, the Division of Legislative Services acts as a repository for applications submitted by interested persons and is tasked with screening out applicants who are ineligible or submit incomplete applications. The applications of the citizen candidates selected by political leadership and submitted for consideration to the selection committee are public records.

The bill also directs the Division of Legislative Services to provide staff support to the Commission in the redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts. The Commission is required to submit to the General Assembly plans of districts within certain time periods, and the bill sets out criteria by which the districts are to be drawn, including equal population, racial and ethnic fairness, communities of interest, contiguity, and compactness. The bill prohibits a map of districts from unduly favoring or disfavoring any political party when considered on a statewide basis.

The bill provides for the preparation and use of adjusted population data for redistricting and reapportionment purposes to reflect the reallocation of persons incarcerated in federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Persons incarcerated in such a facility whose address at the time of incarceration was in the Commonwealth are to be counted at that address and persons incarcerated in such a facility whose address at the time of incarceration was outside of the Commonwealth or cannot be determined are to be counted at the facility.

Provisions to ensure public participation in the redistricting process are included.

If efforts to establish districts fail, the Supreme Court of Virginia is responsible for establishing districts, and the bill directs the Court to enact rules and procedures for doing so. The rules and procedures enacted by the Court are required to allow public participation in the Court's redistricting deliberations, to provide for the Division of Legislative Services to provide staff support and technical assistance to the Court, and to ensure districts established by the Court adhere to constitutional and statutory criteria. The bill directs the Court to appoint two special masters to assist in the establishment of districts, from lists submitted by the legislative leaders of the majority and minority political parties.

The bill has a contingent effective date of November 15, 2020, provided that the voters approve the amendments to Article II of the Constitution of Virginia, amending Section 6 and adding Section 6-A, at the November 2020 general election.


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