BILL NUMBER: SCA 3 INTRODUCED
INTRODUCED BY Senator Lowenthal
DECEMBER 6, 2004
A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California
an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by repealing and
adding Section 1 of Article XXI thereof, relating to redistricting.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SCA 3, as introduced, Lowenthal. Elections: redistricting.
Existing provisions of the California Constitution require that
each Member of the Senate, Assembly, Congress, and Board of
Equalization be elected from a single-member district.
This measure would require that each of the 40 Senate districts be
divided into 2 Assembly districts.
Existing provisions of the California Constitution require the
Legislature, in the year following the year in which the federal
census is taken at the beginning of each decade, to adjust the
boundary lines of the state Senate, Assembly, congressional, and
Board of Equalization districts in accordance with specified
This measure would delete this provision, and would instead create
a procedure for the appointment of an independent redistricting
commission, composed of 5 members, which would be charged with
establishing congressional, Assembly, Senate, and Board of
Equalization districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern
across the state, adjusted as necessary to accommodate various goals,
This measure would provide that certain records of the Commission
are public records.
This measure would grant the Supreme Court original and exclusive
jurisdiction over all challenges to a redistricting plan adopted by
the Commission and would require that any challenges to a district be
commenced within 45 days after the Commission certified the district
to the Secretary of State. The Supreme Court would be required to
rule on any challenge within 90 days after the challenge is
commenced. If the plan is held to be unconstitutional, the Supreme
Court shall itself adopt a plan within 90 days.
This measure would require the establishment of a pool of 25
candidates for appointment to the independent redistricting
commission, as nominated by a panel of 10 retired judges of the
courts of appeal appointed by the Commission on Judicial
Appointments, would require the selection and appointment from this
pool of 5 commission members, according to a specified procedure, and
would provide for the manner of filling vacancies on the commission,
among other things.
This measure would require the Department of Finance to submit to
the Legislature a recommendation for estimated redistricting
expenses, to be appropriated by the Legislature by majority vote. It
would authorize the commission to contract and to hire staff and
consultants, including legal representation, for purposes of this
measure. It would provide that commissioners are eligible for
reimbursement of expenses pursuant to law.
Vote: 2/3. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: no.
Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the
Legislature of the State of California at its 2005 -06 Regular
Session commencing on the sixth day of December 2004, two-thirds of
the membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the
people of the State of California that the Constitution of the State
be amended as follows:
First--That Section 1 of Article XXI thereof is repealed.
SECTION 1. In the year following
the year in which the national census is taken under the direction of
Congress at the beginning of each decade, the Legislature shall
adjust the boundary lines of the Senatorial, Assembly, Congressional,
and Board of Equalization districts in conformance with the
following standards: (a) Each member of the
Senate, Assembly, Congress, and the Board of Equalization shall be
elected from a single-member district.
(b) The population of all districts of a particular type shall be
(c) Every district shall be contiguous.
(d) Districts of each type shall be numbered consecutively
commencing at the northern boundary of the State and ending at the
(e) The geographical integrity of any city, county, or city and
county, or of any geographical region shall be respected to the
extent possible without violating the requirements of any other
subdivision of this section.
Second--That Section 1 is added to Article XXI thereof, to read:
SECTION 1. (a) Each member of the Senate, Assembly, Congress,
and Board of Equalization shall be elected from a single-member
district. The territory of each Senate district established pursuant
to this section shall be divided into two Assembly districts.(b) By
February 28 of each year ending in the number one, a commission to be
known as the Independent Redistricting Commission (the Commission)
shall be established to provide for the redistricting of
congressional, Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization districts.
The Commission shall consist of five members. No more than two
members of the Commission may be members of the same political party.
Of the four members appointed pursuant to subdivisions (e) and (f),
no two or more may reside in the same county. Each member shall be a
registered California voter who has been continuously registered with
the same political party, or registered as unaffiliated with a
political party, for three or more years immediately preceding
appointment and shall commit to applying this section in an honest,
independent, and impartial fashion and to upholding public confidence
in the integrity of the redistricting process. Within the three
years immediately preceding appointment, a member may not have been
appointed to, elected to, or a candidate for any other public office,
other than school district governing board member or other officer
of a school district or county office of education, and may not have
served as an officer of a political party, or served as a registered
paid lobbyist or as an officer of a candidate's campaign committee.
(c) A panel of 10 retired judges of the courts of appeal,
appointed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, shall nominate
candidates for appointment to the Commission.
(d) By January 8 of each year ending in the number one, the panel
of 10 retired judges of the courts of appeal shall establish a pool
of persons who are willing to serve on and are qualified for
appointment to the Commission. The pool of candidates shall consist
of 25 nominees, with 10 nominees from each of the two largest
political parties in California based on party registration, and 5
who are not registered with either of the two largest political
parties in California.
(e) Appointments to the Commission shall be made in the order set
forth below. No later than January 31 of each year ending in the
number one, the Speaker of the Assembly shall make one appointment to
the Commission from the pool of nominees, followed by one
appointment from the pool made in turn by each of the following: the
minority floor leader of the Assembly, the President pro Tempore of
the Senate, and the minority leader of the Senate. Each official
shall have a seven-day period in which to make an appointment. If the
appointment by the Speaker of the Assembly is not made by January
31, or any of the successive appointments is not made within a period
of seven days following the deadline for the preceding appointment,
that appointment is forfeited and shall be filled pursuant to
subdivision (f). In the event that there are two or more minority
parties within the Assembly or the Senate, the leader of the largest
minority party by statewide party registration shall make the
(f) Any vacancy in the four Commission positions described in
subdivision (e) that remains as of March 1 of a year ending in the
number one shall be filled from the pool of nominees by the panel
described in subdivision (c). The appointing body shall strive for
political balance and fairness in making that appointment.
(g) At a meeting called by the Secretary of State, the four
Commission members appointed pursuant to subdivisions (e) and (f)
shall select by majority vote from the nomination pool a fifth member
who is not registered with any party already represented on the
Commission. If the four members fail to appoint a fifth member within
15 days of that meeting, the panel described in subdivision (c),
striving for political balance and fairness, shall appoint the fifth
member from the nomination pool. The fifth member, as appointed
pursuant to this subdivision, shall serve as chairperson of the
(h) The five members of the Commission shall select by majority
vote one of their members to serve as vice chairperson.
(i) After having been served written notice and provided with an
opportunity for a response, a member of the Commission may be removed
by the Governor, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate,
for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or
inability to discharge the duties of office.
(j) If a member of the Commission vacates his or her term of
office prior to its completion for any reason, within the first 30
days after the vacancy occurs the panel described in subdivision (c)
shall nominate a pool of three candidates. The nominees shall be of
the same political party membership, or independent status, held by
the member who vacated the office at the time of his or her
appointment. The appointment of the successor member shall be made
from the pool of nominees by the person, persons, or entity that,
pursuant to subdivision (e), (f), or (g), appointed the member
vacating the office, except that a successor appointed pursuant to
subdivision (g) under these circumstances is not thereby made the
chairperson of the Commission and, in the event of that appointment,
a new chairperson shall be appointed by the remaining members. If the
appointment of a replacement member is not made within 14 days
following the presentation of the nominees, the panel described in
subdivision (c) shall make the appointment, striving for political
balance and fairness. The newly appointed member shall serve out the
remainder of the original term.
(k) Three members, one of whom is the chairperson or vice
chairperson, constitute a quorum. Three or more affirmative votes are
required for any official action. The Commission shall conduct
business only in meetings open to the public, and shall provide not
less than 48 hours' public notice of each meeting. The records of the
Commission pertaining to redistricting, and all data considered by
the Commission are public records, open to inspection by members of
the public upon request, except that the Commission may withhold from
public inspection preliminary drafts, notes, and communications
(l) A person serving as a member of the Commission shall be
ineligible, during his or her term of office and for three years
thereafter, for public office in this State, other than school
district governing board member or other officer of a school district
or county office of education, and for registration as a paid
(m) The Commission shall establish congressional, Assembly,
Senate, and Board of Equalization districts. The mapping process for
each of the districts shall consist initially of the creation of
districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the
State. The Commission shall then adjust the grid as necessary to
accommodate each of the following goals, prioritized in the order
(1) Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and
the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1971 et seq.).
(2) Congressional, Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization
districts shall each have equal population with other districts for
the same office, to the extent practicable.
(3) Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to
the extent practicable.
(4) District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to
the extent practicable.
(5) To the extent practicable, district lines shall use visible
geographic features, city and county boundaries, and undivided census
(6) To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be
favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the
other goals listed in this subdivision.
(n) Party registration and voting history data shall be excluded
from the initial phase of the mapping process but may be used to test
maps for compliance with the goals set forth in subdivision (m). The
places of residence of incumbents or candidates may not be
identified or considered for purposes of this section.
(o) The Commission shall display a draft map of congressional,
Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization districts to the public
for comment, in a manner designed to achieve the widest public
dissemination reasonably possible, and public comment shall be taken
for at least 30 days from the date of public display. Either the
Assembly or the Senate, or both, may act within this period to make
recommendations to the Commission by majority or by minority report,
which recommendations shall be considered by the Commission. The
Commission shall then establish final boundaries for congressional,
Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization districts, and shall
certify those districts to the Secretary of State.
(p) The provisions of this section are self-executing.
(q) In each year ending in the number nine, the Department of
Finance or its successor shall submit to the Legislature a
recommendation for an appropriation adequate to meet the estimated
expenses of the subsequent redistricting process occurring pursuant
to this section, and shall make adequate office space available for
the operation of the Commission. Notwithstanding Section 12 of
Article IV, the Legislature shall make the necessary appropriation by
bill passed by rollcall vote entered in the journal, a majority of
the membership of each house concurring.
(r) The Commission, with fiscal oversight from the Department of
Finance or its successor, shall have procurement and contracting
authority and may hire staff and consultants for the purposes of this
section, including legal representation.
(s) The Commission has standing in legal actions regarding a
redistricting plan and to establish whether funds or other resources
provided for the operation of the Commission are adequate. The
Commission has sole authority to determine whether the Attorney
General or counsel hired or selected by the Commission shall
represent the people of California in the legal defense of a
(t) The Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in
all proceedings where a plan adopted by the Commission is challenged.
To challenge a redistricting plan, a resident of a challenged
district shall commence an action for injunctive or other relief
within 45 days after the Commission has certified the district to the
Secretary of State. The Supreme Court shall rule on any challenge
within 90 days after an action challenging a redistricting plan is
commenced. If the Supreme Court determines that a redistricting plan
adopted by the Commission violates this Constitution, the United
States Constitution, or any federal statute, the Supreme Court shall,
within 90 days, prepare and adopt a revised redistricting plan in
accordance with the standards set forth in this section.
(u) Members of the Commission are eligible for reimbursement of
personal expenses incurred in connection with the duties performed
for the Commission pursuant to law, and a member's residence is
deemed to be the member's post of duty for purposes of reimbursement
(v) The term of office of each member of the Commission expires
upon the appointment of the first member of the succeeding
Commission. The Commission may not meet or incur expenses after the
redistricting plan becomes final pursuant to subdivision (o), except
with respect to any pending litigation or government approval
concerning the plan, to revise districts if required by court order,
or if the number of congressional, Assembly, Senate, or Board of
Equalization districts is changed.
(w) For purposes of this section, "day" means a calendar day,
except that if the final day of a period within which an act is to be
performed is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the period is extended
to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.