SB 38Background and Procedural Information
On January 9, 2008 Virginia Democratic Senator R. Creigh Deeds introduced Virginia Senate Bill 38 (VA S.B. 38). As of June 11, 2008 it is currently stalled in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
No. Single-members districts are neither required nor implied.
Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?
The commission provides that “All districts shall be drawn to comply with…the federal Voting Rights Act as amended, and relevant case law.” The “initial maps” created by the commission may not use voter history information except for data required for compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Initial maps are the first maps created by the commission without feedback from the public or legislators. Subsequent maps may use voter history information.
Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
The President Pro Tem of the Senate, the House Speaker, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, the Chairpersons of the political parties receiving the most and second most votes in the most recent gubernatorial election will each appoint one member of the commission. These six commissioners will then appoint, by a vote of at least four members, a final commissioner who will also serve as chairman. The Chairman may not have served in a political office for the last five years. The General Assembly has ultimate authority to determine the district boundaries. The commission merely presents plans and recommendations.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
Yes. The commission is to use eight redistricting criteria. Promoting “Competitiveness to the extent practicable” is encouraged as long as “no district shall be made artificially competitive in violation of other standards.” So, while competition is a standard, it is the lowest priority standard.
Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
No. The public may attend a series of at least five public meetings where they can give the commissioners comments and suggestions.
Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
Yes, but only if ordered to do so by a court or the federal government.