HJR 70
Background and Procedural Information

On January 4, 2008 Virginia Democratic House Delegate Plum introduced Virginia House Joint Resolution 70 (VA H.J.R. 70).  As of June 11, 2008 it is stalled in a House Committee.  The bill would give a thirteen-person independent redistricting commission the responsibility of redistricting state legislative and congressional districts.  

Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?

No.  The number of Senators and Delegates is set within certain limits, but there are no restrictions on the number of districts that would prevent multi-member districts.   

Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?

The commission may not use addresses of incumbent legislators and members of congress, political affiliations of registered voters, and previous election results.   

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?

The legislative leaders of the two largest political parties present in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate and the chairpersons of the state committees of the two political parties that received the most votes in the most recent gubernatorial general election will each select two people to serve as commissioners.  These first twelve commissioners will then, with at least seven positive votes, choose a thirteenth and final commissioner member to serve as chairperson.  The chairperson cannot be affiliated with any political party. 
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?

No.  While there are standards the redistricting commission is required to use, fostering competition within the districts is not one of these criteria.   

Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?

Yes.  Members of the public may attend public hearings and submit plans at these hearings.  However, the Commission will only look at plans “Subject to the constraints of time and convenience.”   

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?

Yes.  The commission will be reconstituted within the decade only if a court orders it.   
November 19th 2005
Redistricting reform: How best to tackle ultra-safe districts
Sacramento Bee

FairVote's Rob Richie argues in commentary running in several newspapers that redistricting reformers must challenge winner-take-all elections.

November 16th 2005
In Canada, regular folks are put to work on reforms
San Jose Mercury News

Steven Hill prescribes a citizens assembly as a solution for achieving consensus on redistricting reform in California.

November 15th 2005
Citizens Must Drive Electoral Reform
Roll Call

Heather Gerken of Harvard Law suggests a citizens assembly as one means to achieve redistricting reform and buy-in from voters.

November 13th 2005
ARNOLD AGONIZES: How the election changed the governor -- and California
San Francisco Chronicle

Article discussing the recent failure of redistricting reform in California and the potential solution in letting the citizens decide through a Citizens Assembly on Election Reform.

November 13th 2005
Arnold had the right idea about redistricting
The Herald News

The Herald News cites Fairvote with commentary about the dangers of Gerrmandering and redistricting obstacles.

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