Call to Action - Redistricting Reform
ACTION NEEDED: Contact Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders about redistricting reform. Urge them to work together to consider and pass a LEGISLATIVE measure that will be placed on the next statewide ballot. Tell them that reform of the redistricting process should include:
- an independent, diverse citizens' commission to draw the lines for congressional, state senate, state assembly, and Board of Equalization districts
- an open process with information readily available to the public and opportunities for public comment at all stages
- fair criteria for drawing district lines
- no provision for "mid-decade redistricting"-i.e., for drawing new lines before the 2010 census.
BACKGROUND: Taking redistricting out of the hands of the legislature was one of the reforms called for by the Governor in his State of the State address last January. He challenged legislators to enact this and several other proposals, and he stated that he would "go to the people" through the initiative process if the legislature did not carry out his wishes.
Several proposals to have districts drawn by an independent panel have been introduced in the legislature, but they have not made any headway in the legislative process. In fact, none has even been scheduled for a hearing in policy committee.
The governor's proposal was introduced by Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as ACAX1 3 in a special legislative session. It has been amended to include a number of improvements suggested by Common Cause, the League, and others. The LWVC has informed the author that we will support his bill if it is further amended to delete a provision calling for mid-decade redistricting. (Read our letter to McCarthy at "Redistricting" for more details.)
Two other bills that would give the task of drawing district lines to an independent redistricting commission, SCA 3 (Lowenthal) and ACAX1 5 (Canciamilla and Richman), are supported by the LWVC. Since all three bills would amend the state constitution, upon passage by the legislature they would go before the people for a vote.
Meanwhile, a number of initiatives have been proposed to change the redistricting process. One, by Ted Costa, is actively being promoted. Supporters have raised enough funds to ensure that enough signatures can be gathered to place it on the ballot. The League has not taken a position on this initiative, but we note that it includes a requirement for immediately drawing new district lines if voters pass the measure. Since an initiative cannot be amended once the process has begun, proponents could not alter their measure, even if they wished to do so.
THE MESSAGE: Californians want real redistricting reform. The only way a satisfactory measure can be crafted is through the legislative process, where proposals can be examined and improvements to them made.
Tell Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Member McCarthy that you appreciate their efforts and hope they will remove the mid-decade redistricting provision so that a compromise bill can be crafted. Ask them to work with the Democrats to produce a constitutional amendment that will be passed by the legislature and by the voters.
Urge Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata to go forward with hearings on the existing bills. Tell them legislators should get public input about good and bad features and discuss improvements so that negotiations with the governor and his party will be fruitful.
Also, contact your own senator and assembly member and ask them to support their leaders in the effort to find a legislative solution to this essential reform.
LWVC REDISTRICTING POSITION IN BRIEF: Support a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation in the state legislature and in the House of Representatives with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny. Support of a bipartisan commission as the preferred redistricting body.
The full position appears on the LWVC Redistricting Web page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Go to the LWVC Web page on Redistricting.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-445-2841; Fax 916-445-4633
Or contact a field office in Fresno, L.A., Riverside, San Diego, or San
Francisco; see "Contact the Governor" at www.governor.ca.gov
Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001
916-319-2032; Fax 916-319-2132
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001
916-319-2046; Fax 916-319-2146
Senate President pro Tem Don Perata
P.O. Box 942848
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001
916-445-6577 or 916-651-4009; Fax 916-327-1997
For your own senator and assembly member, visit http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html