BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                           CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                           Senator Debra Bowen, Chair

          BILL NO:   SCA 3                        HEARING  
          AUTHOR:    LOWENTHAL                    ANALYSIS BY:Darren  
          AMENDED:   6/27/05
          FISCAL:    YES
           Current law  provides that in the year following the year in  
          which the federal decennial census is taken, the  
          Legislature shall adjust the boundary lines of the Senate,  
          Assembly, Congressional, and Board of Equalization  
          districts in conformance with the following standards:

           Each member of the Senate, Assembly, Congress, and the  
            Board of Equalization shall be elected from a  
            single-member district.
           The population of all districts of a particular type  
            shall be reasonably equal.
           Every district shall be contiguous.
           Districts of each type shall be numbered consecutively  
            commencing at the northern boundary of the State and  
            ending at the southern boundary.
           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.

           Current law  requires the Legislature to pass the budget  
          bill by midnight on June 15 of each year.

           Current law  provides the public with access to legislative  
          records pursuant to the Legislative Open Records Act  
          (LORA), as specified.

           Current law  does not require members of the Legislature to  
          conduct public meetings within their districts.

           This Constitutional Revision  makes findings and  


          declarations regarding the desire to enhance government  
          responsiveness, restore trust through transparency, and  
          eliminate barriers to access and participation.

          In furtherance of these goals, this Constitutional Revision  
          - if approved by the voters - would create the Citizen's  
          Commission on Boundaries and Accountability (Commission)  
          which, beginning in 2010, will establish and adopt the  
          boundaries of the Senate, Assembly, Congressional, and  
          Board of Equalization districts following each federal  
          decennial census.

          The Commission would also be required to review and make  
          recommendations regarding legislative procedures, fiscal  
          transparency, and enhancing public access to legislative  

           This Constitutional Revision  would, if approved by the  
          voters, also:

           Require each member of the Legislature to conduct at  
            least two "town hall" meetings in his or her district  
            each calendar year.  A "town hall" meeting is defined as  
            a publicly noticed meeting that a member of the  
            Legislature invites his or her constituents to attend to  
            discuss legislative issues.

           Require each house of the Legislature to pass the budget  
            bill prior to adjourning for summer recess.

           Commission Specifics
          The Commission, commencing in 2010, will establish and  
          adopt the boundaries of the Senate, Assembly,  
          Congressional, and Board of Equalization districts  
          following each federal decennial census.

          The membership of the Commission will serve three-year  
          terms and will be appointed by the following entities  in  
          this order  between January 1 and July 1 of each year ending  
          in zero:

           The Governor
           The President pro Tem of the Senate
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           The Speaker of the Assembly
           The Senate Minority Leader
           The Assembly Minority Leader
           The Judicial Council
           The President of the University of California

          The appointees must meet the following criteria:

           No more than three members of the Commission can be from  
            the same qualified political party; 
           No members may be current or recent officeholders,  
            candidates, party officials, or lobbyists, as specified; 
           No two members may reside in the same county.  

          The appointing authorities must make every effort to ensure  
          that the members of the Commission represent California's  
          racial, ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity.

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          The proceedings of the Commission must be open and publicly  
          noticed and all records available for public inspection, as  
          specified.  Expenses for the Commission will be paid out of  
          the Legislature's operating funds and may not exceed 40% of  
          what was spent for the 2001 redistricting, adjusted  
          thereafter for inflation.

          The Supreme Court will have original and exclusive  
          jurisdiction in all proceedings should a plan adopted by  
          the Commission be challenged.  Challenges must be made to  
          and addressed by the Court according to a specified  

           Redistricting Criteria
          Redistricting plans adopted by the Commission must conform  
          to the following criteria and prioritized in the following  

          a.Officeholders must be elected from single-member  

          b.The population of all districts of a given type may not  
            deviate plus or minus one person per Senate,  
            Congressional, or Board of Equalization district and plus  
            or minus 7 persons per Assembly district.

          c.Districts must comply with the United States Constitution  
            and the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

          d.Every district must be contiguous.

          e.Districts must be numbered consecutively from north to  
            south except that Senate districts may deviate from this  
            requirement, as specified.

          f.The geographic integrity of any city or county must be  
            respected to the extent possible without violating any of  
            the above criteria.

          g.Districts must be geographically compact to the extent  
            practicable and must reflect geographic communities of  

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          Other States  
          According to the National Conference of State Legislatures  
          (NCSL), since the landmark Supreme Court decisions of the  
          1960s that established the one-person, one-vote principle,  
          a number of states have shifted redistricting of state  
          legislative district lines from the Legislature to a board  
          or commission.  There are 12 states that give first and  
          final authority for legislative redistricting to a group  
          other than the Legislature.  Alaska, Idaho and Arizona were  
          the most recent states to join this group, using a  
          commission for the first time in the 2000 round of  

          There are pros and cons to removing the redistricting  
          process from the traditional legislative process and the  
          track record of success by commissions is inconsistent in  
          terms of having plans overturned by courts.  Some people  
          often mistakenly assume commissions will be less partisan  
          than legislatures when conducting redistricting, but  
          whether that actually occurs depends largely on the design  
          of the board or commission.

          Critics of the current redistricting process argue  
          congressional and legislative elections aren't competitive  
          largely due to the process of adopting new districts.   
          Arizona voters approved a state constitutional amendment in  
          the late 1990s, moving redistricting from the Legislature  
          to the five-member Arizona Independent Redistricting  
          Commission that must have at least one member who is not  
          from the two major political parties and must draw  
          districts using a specific list of criteria, including  
          making the districts competitive if at all possible.  In  
          2004, an Arizona state Superior Court overturned the plans  
          produced by the Arizona Independent Redistricting  
          Commission for failing to meet the competitiveness  
          criteria, in addition to other violations of the state  

          The commissions vary greatly from state to state in terms  
          of their make-up. Most of them include appointments made by  
          legislative leaders. 
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           The November Ballot Initiative  
          An initiative sponsored by Edward J. (Ted) Costa to create  
          a redistricting panel has recently qualified to appear on  
          the November 8, 2005 statewide special election ballot. 

          The initiative requires a three-member panel of retired  
          judges, selected by legislative leaders, to adopt a new  
          redistricting plan for California's Senate, Assembly,  
          Congressional and Board of Equalization districts  
          immediately upon passage and again after each federal  
          decennial census.  The Panel must consider legislative and  
          public proposals and comments and hold public hearings.   
          The redistricting plan would become effective immediately  
          when adopted by the panel and automatically submitted to  
          the voters for approval.  If voters subsequently reject the  
          plan, the process would repeat itself.  The criteria that  
          the Panel must follow would include the following:

           Population equality.

           "Nesting" of Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization  

           Respect for city and county borders.


           A prohibition on splitting of census blocks except when  
            constitutionally required.

           No consideration of potential effects on incumbents or  
            political parties.  No data regarding the residence of   
            an incumbent or other candidate or the party affiliation  
            or voting history of electors may be used in the  
            preparation of plans, except as required by federal law.
           Competing Measures
          If SCA 3 also appears on the November 8, 2005 statewide  
          special election ballot, the Constitution provides that if  
          provisions of two or more measures approved at the same  
          election conflict, those provisions of the measure  
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          receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

          While SCAs don't require a signature from the Governor to  
          appear on a ballot, if SCA 3 isn't approved by both houses  
          of the Legislature by June 30, 2005, a separate bill will  
          need to be passed and approved by the Governor for the  
          measure to appear on the November 8, 2005 ballot.
           Prior Redistricting  Initiatives
          Proposition 119, which failed passage in 1990 by a 36% to  
          64% vote, would have created a 12-person Independent  
          Citizens Redistricting Commission appointed by a panel of  
          three retired state appellate justices from a list of  
          voters nominated by nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations.   
          The Commission was to adjust boundaries of California  
          Senate, Assembly, Congressional, and Board of Equalization  
          districts by reviewing submitted plans and adopting a plan  
          or amended a plan which complied with specified standards  
          including a 1% population variance and the "nesting" of  
          Senate and Assembly districts.

          Two similar measures failed passage in the early 1980s.   
          Proposition 14, failed passage in 1982 by a 45.5% to 55.5%  
          vote and Proposition 39 failed passage in 1984 on a 44.8%  
          to 55.2% vote.

          Proposition 118, which also failed passage in 1990 on a 33%  
          to 67% vote, would have enacted new redistricting criteria  
          and provided that all Senate seats stand for election  
          during the same years as opposed to the current staggered  
          schedule.  Proposition 118 did not create a redistricting  
          commission but left that responsibility with the  

           1.What's a Constitutional Revision  ?  Only the Legislature  
            may place a Constitutional Revision on the ballot.   
            Initiatives may seek only to  amend  the Constitution.   
            Since this measure includes redistricting reform, changes  
            to legislative procedures and other requirements, it  
            therefore constitutes a revision to the Constitution and  
            is appropriately referred to as such.
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           2.Numbering Senate Seats  .  The provision of this  
            Constitutional Revision that permits Senate districts to  
            deviate from the strict north-to-south numbering  
            requirement is intended to minimize the "deferral" of  
            voters that is an unavoidable consequence of staggered  
            Senate terms.  

            For instance, during the 2001 redistricting, any portion  
            of the state that was in an "old" even-numbered Senate  
            district but became part of "new" odd-numbered Senate  
            district, did not technically have a representative in  
            the Senate between 2002-2004.  In such cases however, the  
            Senate Rules Committee assigned an incumbent Senator to  
            provide constituent services to these deferred areas.   
            Conversely, any portion of the state that was in an "old"  
            odd-numbered Senate district but became part of a "new"  
            even-numbered Senate district was actually represented by  
            two different members of the Senate between 2002-2004.   
            These dually represented places are referred to as  
            "accelerated" areas.  

            This Constitutional Revision provides that any new Senate  
            district that contains 60% or more of population of an  
            area previously assigned an odd or even-numbered district  
            shall be assigned an odd or even district number,  
            whichever is applicable.

           3.You Want a Budget When  ?  Although current law requires  
            the Legislature to pass the budget bill by midnight on  
            June 15 of each year, this deadline is rarely met and  
            there are no consequences for the Legislature's failure  
            to do so.  This Constitutional Revision would prohibit  
            each house of the Legislature from recessing for the  
            summer until it has passed the budget bill.

           4.Timing of Redistricting Plan  . Under this measure,  
            redistricting plans would be developed just as they are  
            now from a timing perspective, in each year ending in  
            zero following the release of the federal census data,  
            with the goal of being in place by the regularly  
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            scheduled elections for the year ending in "two."

            Under the measure that's qualified for the November 8,  
            2005 ballot, the three-member panel of retired judges  
            would have the ability to adopt a redistricting plan  
            immediately upon passage of the measure by the voters.   
            That plan would take effect immediately (in theory, in  
            time for the 2006 election cycle although many observers,  
            including the Secretary of State, do not believe that is  
            possible) and would then be submitted to the voters  
            (presumably on the June or November 2006 ballot) for  
            approval.  If the voters reject the proposal, a new  
            redistricting plan would have to be drawn up for 2008 and  
            approved by the voters before it could be put in place.   
            This creates a number of inequities, not the least of  
            which is the fact that as discussed in Comment 2, people  
            who live in "deferred" Senate districts could technically  
            be without representation for years.

           5.Appointers Are Similar, Appointees May Be Different  .   
            Under this measure, the four legislative leaders, the  
            Governor, the Judicial Counsel, and the President of the  
            University of California must appoint members to the  
            seven-member Commission created by this Constitutional  
            Revision, pursuant to certain criteria.
            Under the initiative that has qualified for the November  
            2005 ballot, the four legislative leaders are each  
            required to select three retired judges from a list  
            submitted by the Judicial Council.  The leaders must  
            select retired judges who are from a different political  
            party than they are, then each leader gets one  
            "preemptory" challenge to remove one judge from the pool.  
             That will leave a maximum of eight retired judges, at  
            which point the Chief Clerk of the State Assembly will  
            blindly select three names of judges to serve on the  

           6.Related Legislation  .  The redistricting provisions of  
            this Constitutional Revision are conceptually similar to  
            ACA 8 (Maze) which is pending referral to Assembly policy  
            committee, ACA1X3 (McCarthy) which is pending in the  
            Assembly Committee on District Representation, and ACA1X5  
            (Canciamilla) which is also pending referral to Assembly  
            policy committee.
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           Sponsor: Author

           Support: None received

           Oppose:  None received

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