BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                 SENATE COMMITTEE ON ELECTIONS, REAPPORTIONMENT AND  
                              CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
                             Senator Debra Bowen, Chair



          BILL NO:   SCA 3                                 HEARING  
          DATE:3/15/06
          AUTHOR:    LOWENTHAL                              ANALYSIS  
          BY:Darren Chesin
          AMENDED:   3/9/06
          FISCAL:    YES
          
                                      DESCRIPTION  
          
           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.

           Overview
           
           This measure  would instead provide for the appointment of a five  
          member Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) which would  
          establish congressional, Assembly, Senate, and State Board of  
          Equalization districts by February 28 of each year ending in the  
          number one.  The provisions of this measure are deemed to be  
          self-executing.

           IRC Eligibility
           









           No more than two members of the IRC may be members of the same  
            political party and no two or more may reside in the same  
            county. 

           Each member must be continuously registered with the same  
            political party, or registered as unaffiliated with a  
            political party, for three or more years immediately preceding  
            appointment.




































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           Within the three years immediately preceding appointment, a  
            member may not have been appointed to, elected to, or have  
            been a candidate for any public office, 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.  

           Legislative and congressional staff and consultants,  
            contractors to the Legislature, and any person with a  
            financial or family relationship with the Governor, a Member  
            of the Legislature, a Member of Congress, or a member of the  
            State Board of Equalization, are not eligible to serve as  
            members of the IRC. 

           During their terms, and for three years thereafter, IRC  
            members shall be ineligible for public office in this State or  
            for registration as a paid lobbyist.
             
           IRC Appointments
           
           No later than January 8 of each year ending in the number one,  
            a panel of 10 retired judges of the Court of Appeal (who will  
            be appointed by the Judicial Council) must establish a pool of  
            25 qualified persons who are willing to serve on the IRC with  
            10 nominees from each of the two largest political parties and  
            five who are not registered with either of the two largest  
            political parties.  

           The panel of retired judges must make every effort to ensure  
            that the pool of candidates is representative of both genders  
            and California's racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.

           No later than January 31 of the same year, one appointment to  
            the IRC from the pool of 25 nominees must be made in this  
            order by each of the following officials: the Speaker of the  
            Assembly, the Assembly minority leader, the President pro  
            Tempore of the Senate, and the Senate minority leader.  Each  
            official shall have a seven-day period in which to make an  
            appointment.

           The four IRC members appointed by the legislative leadership  
            must then select, by majority vote, from the nomination pool a  
            fifth member who is not registered with any party already  
            represented.  That fifth member will serve as chairperson of  
            the IRC.
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           The term of office of each member of the IRC expires upon the  
            appointment of the first member of the succeeding IRC.  The  
            IRC may not meet or incur expenses after the redistricting  
            plan becomes final except with respect to any pending  
            litigation or as otherwise specified.

           IRC Proceedings
          
           Three members of the IRC, one of whom is the chairperson or  
            vice chairperson, would constitute a quorum and three or more  
            affirmative votes would be required for any official action. 

           The IRC could only conduct business in meetings open to the  
            public and noticed at least 14 days in advance.

           With specified exceptions, the records of the IRC pertaining  
            to redistricting, and all relevant data would be open to  
            inspection.  Ex-parte communications with members would be  
            prohibited.

           The IRC would be required to display a draft map of  
            congressional, Assembly, Senate, and State Board of  
            Equalization districts to the public for comment for at least  
            30 days.  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 must be considered by  
            the IRC.  The Commission would then establish final boundaries  
            for these districts and certify them to the Secretary of  
            State.

           The Legislature would be required, by majority vote, to make  
            the necessary appropriation adequate to meet the IRC's  
            estimated expenses.  The IRC would have procurement and  
            contracting authority and may hire staff and consultants,  
            exempt from civil service, including legal representation.  

           The Supreme Court will have original and exclusive  
            jurisdiction in all proceedings in which a plan adopted by the  
            IRC is challenged.

           Redistricting Criteria
           
          Each member of the Senate, Assembly, Congress, and the State  
          Board of Equalization would continue to be elected from  
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          single-member districts.  The territory of each Senate district  
          must be divided into two Assembly districts.  

          Party registration and voting history data must be excluded from  
          the initial phase of the mapping process but may be used to test  
          maps for compliance with other specified goals.  The places of  
          residence of incumbents or candidates may not be identified or  
          considered.

          The IRC would initially create districts of equal population in  
          a grid-like pattern across the state then adjust the grid as  
          necessary to accommodate each of the following goals,  
          prioritized in this order:

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

           Districts must each have equal population with other districts  
            for the same office, to the extent practicable.

           Districts must be geographically contiguous to the extent  
            practicable.

           District boundaries must respect communities of interest to  
            the extent practicable.

           District lines must use visible geographic features, city and  
            county boundaries, and undivided census tracts to the extent  
            practicable.

           Districts must be geographically compact to the extent  
            practicable.

           To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be  
            favored where to do so would create no significant detriment  
            to the aforementioned goals.

                                      BACKGROUND  
          
           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  
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          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 redistricting. 

          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 Constitution.

          The commissions vary greatly from state to state in terms of  
          their make-up. Most of them include appointments made by  
          legislative leaders. 
           
          Recent 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 amending a plan which complied with  
          specified standards including a 1% population variance and the  
          "nesting" of Senate and Assembly districts.
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          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 Legislature.

          Proposition 77, another initiative intended to create a  
          redistricting panel, failed passage by a 59.8% to 40.2% vote on  
          the November 8, 2005 Statewide Special Election ballot.  The  
          initiative would have required 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 would have been required to consider legislative and  
          public proposals and comments and hold public hearings.  The  
          redistricting plan would have become effective immediately when  
          adopted by the panel and then automatically submitted to the  
          voters for approval.  If voters subsequently rejected the plan,  
          the process would repeat itself.  The criteria the panel would  
          have followed included the following:

           Population equality.

           "Nesting" of Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization  
            districts.

           Respect for city and county borders.

           Compactness.

           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  
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            plans, except as required by federal law.
          
          The proponent of Proposition 77 is sponsoring yet another  
          redistricting commission initiative that is currently eligible  
          for circulation.  This measure would create an 11-member  
          commission selected randomly from voter rolls by the Secretary  
          of State.  


           Communities of Interest 



           The term "community of interest" is not defined by statute but  
          is generally considered a group of persons united by shared  
          characteristics, interests, values, history, culture, ethnicity,  
          background, economic ties, etc., that may or may not coincide  
          with a specific governmental boundary.  For example, a river may  
          form a boundary between two cities or counties, but the entire  
          river valley may comprise a recognized community of interest. 



           Census Tracts

           

          According to the United States Census Bureau, census tracts are  
          small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a  
          county.  Census tracts usually have between 2,500 and 8,000  
          persons and, when first delineated, are designed to be  
          homogeneous with respect to population characteristics, economic  
          status, and living conditions.  Census tracts do not cross  
          county boundaries.  The spatial size of census tracts varies  
          widely depending on the density of settlement.  Census tract  
          boundaries are delineated with the intention of being maintained  
          over a long time so that statistical comparisons can be made  
          from census to census.   However, physical changes in street  
          patterns caused by highway construction, new development, etc.,  
          may require occasional revisions; census tracts occasionally are  
          split due to large population growth, or combined as a result of  
          substantial population decline.

                                       COMMENTS  
          
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           1.Is Five Enough  ?  Under this measure, the IRC would be made up  
            of five people selected from a pool of 25 nominees (ten from  
            each of the two largest political parties) established by a  
            panel of 10 retired Court of Appeal judges.  The four  
            legislative leaders would select one person apiece and the  
            four people chosen would select the fifth member of the panel.  
             No more than two members of the IRC can be from the same  
            political party and or county.  What's not clear is whether a  
            five-member IRC is most appropriate or whether a larger IRC  
            would be more representative of California's voters.  Some of  
            the parties who have expressed an interest in this measure  
            have raised the question of whether an 11-member IRC would be  
            more appropriate.   The author and committee may wish to  
            consider  what the appropriate size of the IRC should be.

           2.Is Nesting for the Birds  ?   This measure requires that each  
            Senate district be divided into two Assembly districts,  
            otherwise known as "nesting."  While nesting provides some  
            administrative convenience, it may also serve as an artificial  
            barrier to creating districts that better comply with other  
            established criteria such as compliance with the federal  
            Voting Rights Act, compactness, and respect for communities of  
            interest.   The author and committee may wish to consider   
            whether the nesting of Assembly districts should be required.

           3.All in the Family  .  This measure provides that persons with a  
            financial or family relationship with specified officeholders  
            are not eligible to serve as members of the IRC.   The author  
            and committee may wish to consider  clarifying the definition  
            of "financial or family relationship" for the purposes of this  
            prohibition.
          
           4.First and Goal  .  This measure sets the following as the first  
            two prioritized goals when establishing districts: (1)  
            compliance with the United States Constitution and the federal  
            Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), and (2) equal population with  
            other districts for the same office.  The equal population  
            goal however, is a direct result of numerous  
            constitutionally-based federal court cases.  Furthermore,  
            while compliance with the VRA must be required, it is  
            obviously subordinate to the Constitution.   The author and  
            committee may wish to consider  amending this bill to combine  
            population equality with constitutional compliance and setting  
            VRA compliance as the second prioritized goal.

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           5.What Is "Competitive"  ?  As the final prioritized goal for  
            establishing districts, this measure provides that, to the  
            extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored  
            where to do so would create "no significant detriment" to the  
            aforementioned goals.   The author and committee may wish to  
            consider  amending this measure to clarify the definitions of  
            "competitive" and "no significant detriment," or perhaps  
            consider removing this goal altogether.  This provision was  
            not in the version of SCA 3 approved by this committee last  
            year and since it may conflict with the other criteria  
            delineated in this section - and since what is "competitive"  
            or a "significant detriment" are in the eye of the beholder -  
             the author and committee may wish to consider  removing this  
            goal.     

           6.Starting Out In The Dark  .  The measure precludes the IRC from  
            using party registration and voting history in the initial  
            phase of the mapping process, however it allows the  
            information to be used to test the maps for compliance with  
            other provisions of SCA 3.  The VRA requires the use of party  
            registration and voting history data when crafting  
            redistricting maps, so it's not clear what benefit is achieved  
            by  preventing this information from being used early in the  
            process.  Any proposed maps will certainly be changed as they  
            go through the public hearing process, but by excluding the  
            use of this data early in the process, this provision  
            virtually ensures that the first set of maps will be legally  
            deficient.
          
           7.Can I Have Your Number  ?  Existing law requires districts of  
            each type to be numbered consecutively commencing at the  
            northern boundary of the State and ending at the southern  
            boundary.  This measure, however, does not address how  
            districts should be numbered, though the version of SCA 3  
            approved by this committee last year did included language to  
            address this issue.   The author and committee may wish to  
            consider  amending this measure to clarify how districts of a  
            given type shall be numbered.  

           8.Related Legislation  .  The redistricting provisions of this  
            Constitutional Revision are conceptually similar to ACA 8  
            (Maze) which is pending referral to Assembly policy committee,  
            ACA 3x (McCarthy) which is pending in the Assembly Committee  
            on District Representation, and ACA 5x (Canciamilla) which is  
            also pending referral to Assembly policy committee.
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                                    PRIOR ACTION
                                           
          Senate ER&CA Committee                       4-1

          (This measure was pending on the Senate Appropriations Committee  
          suspense file when it was substantially amended and subsequently  
          referred back to this committee for further consideration.) 

                                       POSITIONS  

           Sponsor: Author

           Support: None received

           Oppose:  None received




























          SCA 3 (LOWENTHAL)                                      Page 11