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.   
October 23rd 2005
Who Should Redistrict?

The New York Times Magazine explains the dilemmas many states, including California, face as they attempt to create competitive and fair congressional districts. Dean Murphy cites FairVote's statistics.

October 15th 2005
Wamp fresh leadership for sagging Republicans
The Tennessean

According to FairVote's Ryan O'Donnell, the Republican party should seize the opportunity to embrace electoral reforms, and take the lead on ending gerrymandering.

October 5th 2005
Mapping the way to a better system
Boston Herald

Why Massachusetts should turn a critical eye towards gerrymandering. This article mentions Fairvote.

October 2nd 2005
Several states may change redistricting process
L.A. Times

Discussion of redistricting practices in California, Massachusetts and Florida. Mentions Tanner's bill.

September 25th 2005
Local GOP breaks with governor to oppose redistricting
Auburn Journal

An article about the debate over a proposal that would give a panel of judges the responsibility of redistricting

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