Rhode Island’s Political Lineup
In the early 1990's a blue ribbon commission formed for the purpose of considering whether state legislators’ salaries should be increased from the then-constitutional rate of $5 per day. In addition to this salary increase, the commission recommended reducing the size of the state legislature by 25% at the time of the next redistricting. The commission's proposals were passed by voters in a 1994 ballot measure. The house will be reduced in size from 100 to 75 members, while the senate will be reduced from 50 to 38. Some state legislative leaders suggested a November 2000 referendum to reverse these planned reductions, but it did not occur..
A group made up of various election reform activists called the Fair Redistricting Coalition has formed in the state with three main goals:
The group testified at two hearings on June 4th and June 19th, but the redistricting process seems to be processing unaffected. The redistricting bill they support is S 0621.
Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?
The legislature. During the last round of redistricting, the legislature appointed a redistricting commission consisting of house and senate members as well as civilian members. There have been no plans made for this round. The governor has veto power over both congressional and state legislative district plans.
Public hearings will be held. Voters can give testimony and propose plans. In the past, the legislature has appointed a joint redistricting committee consisting of house and senate members, and private citizens, to hold these hearings. There are no definitive plans to form this commission in 2001.
Historically there have not been particularly partisan controversies. Usually only one redistricting bill is reported out for consideration. Congressional districting likely will be straightforward in 2001, but state legislative redistricting may be complex, with battles over incumbent protection in light of the mandatory reduction in state legislative seats.
Irregularly Shaped District