July 31, 2007
Dear Attorney General Brown:
Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9005, we have
reviewed the proposed constitutional measure related to redistricting
(A.G. File No. 07‑0025).
Every ten years, the federal census counts the
number of people living in California. The California Constitution
requires the Legislature after each census to adjust the boundaries of
the districts used to elect public officials. This process is called
“redistricting” (or sometimes “reapportionment”). The primary purpose of
redistricting is to establish districts which are “reasonably equal” in
population. Redistricting affects districts for the state Legislature
(Assembly and Senate), Board of Equalization (BOE), and the U.S. House
Typically, redistricting plans are included in
legislation and become law after passage of the bill by the Legislature
and signature by the Governor. In the past, when the Legislature and
Governor have been unable to agree on redistricting plans, the
California Supreme Court oversaw the redistricting.
This measure amends the State Constitution to
change the redistricting process for the state Legislature, BOE, and
California Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead of the
Legislature, an 11-member commission would adjust district boundaries
every ten years.
Commission of Voters. The measure
establishes a commission comprised of eligible voters to perform
redistricting after each federal census. The commission would be
comprised of 11 registered voters—four members each from the state’s two
largest political parties and three members from other party or
decline-to-state voters. The measure establishes a process for the
Secretary of State to determine the members of the commission. The
process would begin with 160,000 randomly selected voters from across
the state and eventually reduce that number to 11 members (and 11
alternatives) through a combination of voter information forms, random
selections, and legislative leadership input. The selected members would
have to meet a number of requirements, including not being employed (or
have a family member employed) in certain capacities (for example, as a
lobbyist or elected official).
Requirements of District Boundaries.
The measure adds new requirements regarding the drawing of district
boundaries. Among these requirements are:
Senate districts must be comprised of two
Assembly districts, and BOE districts must be comprised of ten
The plan must minimize the splitting of
counties, cities, and “communities of interest” into multiple
When drawing boundaries, the commission could
not consider information related to political party affiliations and
other specified matters, except as required by federal law.
Approval Process. In developing a
plan, the commission would have to hold public hearings and could
receive suggested plans and comments from the public. The commission
could approve a new redistricting plan with a majority vote. The
majority vote, however, would be required to include two affirmative
votes from voters representing each of the two largest political parties
and two votes from the other members.
Funding. The measure specifies that
the Legislature must make funding available from the Legislature’s
budget (which is limited under the State Constitution) to support the
work of the new redistricting process. This could include employment of
legal and other experts in the field of redistricting. In addition,
members of the commission would receive a payment of $300 per day of
commission work, as well as be eligible for reimbursement of expenses.
Funding for the new redistricting process would be limited to a maximum
of 90 percent of the amount spent by the Legislature on redistricting in
2001 (adjusted for inflation).
The Legislature spent about $3 million in 2001 on
redistricting. This measure would limit future redistricting costs to
90 percent of this amount, adjusted for inflation. Due to this limit,
the measure could slightly reduce future redistricting costs by a few
hundred thousand dollars every ten years. (This assumes the Legislature
under current law would spend about the same amount for future
redistricting efforts as was spent in 2001.) Any such savings would be
available for other legislative expenses under the existing cap.
Summary. This measure would have
the following fiscal impact:
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