SJR 59
Background and Procedural Information

On January 9, 2008 Virginia Democratic Senator John Miller introduced Virginia Senate Joint Resolution 59 (VA S.J.R. 59).  As of June 11, 2008 the bill is stalled in committee.

VA S.J.R. 59 would establish a five person independent commission that would present a plan for redistricting the Virginia legislative and congressional districts.   

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

No.  Single-member districts are neither required nor otherwise implied.   

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

Yes.  The commission may not use “Demographic information, other than population counts, except as required by the constitution and laws of the United States.”

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?

The Virginia Supreme Court Justice will compile a list of fifteen retired Virginia judges who are willing to serve on the commission as commission candidates.  All commissioners chosen by the state’s political officers must be chosen from this candidate pool.  The Governor, Speaker of the House of Delegates, and President Pro Tem of the Senate each select one commissioner each.  If these three state officers are not all members of the same political party then they will then select two additional members.  If they are members of the same political party then they will select one additional commissioner and the minority leaders of the Senate and House will select the last commissioner.  The commission will vote to appoint its own chairman and create district maps by four affirmative votes.
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 can be reconstituted within the decade, but 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 had the right idea about redistricting
The Herald News

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

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.

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