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Text of Proposition 20, the "Voters FIRST Act for Congress" (California 2010)

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This page is the complete text of the act that will become law if California Proposition 20, Congressional Redistricting is approved.

Ballotpedia Note: Proposition 20, if approved, will alter parts of the California Constitution. In the text displayed below, parts of the California Constitution that Proposition 20 proposes to delete are printed in strikeout type. New provisions that Proposition 20 proposes to add to the California Constitution appear in italic type to indicate that they are new.

++Text of Proposition 20 begins here++
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This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution.

This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by amending sections thereof; therefore, existing provisions proposed to be deleted are printed in strikeout type and new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.

PROPOSED LAW
THE VOTERS FIRST ACT FOR CONGRESS

SECTION 1. Title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Voters FIRST Act for Congress.”

SECTION 2. Findings and Purpose.

The People of the State of California hereby make the following findings and declare their purpose in enacting this act is as follows:

(a) Under current law, California legislators draw the districts for Congress. Allowing politicians to draw these districts, to make them safe for incumbents, or to tailor the districts for the election of themselves or their friends, or to bar the districts to the election of their adversaries, is a serious abuse that harms voters.

(b) Politicians draw districts that serve their interests, not those of our communities. Cities, counties, and communities are currently split between bizarrely jagged congressional districts designed to make those districts safe for particular parties and particular incumbents. We need reform to keep our communities together so everyone has representation.

(c) This reform will make the redistricting process for Congress open so it cannot be controlled by whichever party is in power. It will give the redistricting for Congress to the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which already has the authority to draw the districts for the Legislature and the Board of Equalization. The membership of the commission will have three groups of members: five Democrats; five Republicans; and four members registered with neither of those parties, who will carry the voices of independent and minor-party voters who are completely shut out of the current process. The new districts will be fair because support from all three groups is required for approval of any new redistricting plan.

(d) The independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw districts based on strict, nonpartisan rules designed to ensure fair representation. This reform takes redistricting of Congress out of the partisan battles of the Legislature and guarantees redistricting for Congress will be debated in the open in public meetings. All minutes will be posted publicly on the Internet. Every aspect of this process will be open to scrutiny by the public and the press.

(e) In the current process, politicians are choosing the voters instead of voters having a real choice. This reform will put the voters back in charge.

SECTION 3.

Amendment of Article XXI of the California Constitution.

SECTION 3.1.

Section 1 of Article XXI of the California Constitution is amended to read:

SECTION 1. In the year following the year in which the national census is taken under the direction of Congress at the beginning of each decade, the Legislature Citizens Redistricting Commission described in Section 2 shall adjust the boundary lines of congressional districts the congressional, State Senatorial, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts (also known as “redistricting”) in conformance with the following standards and process set forth in Section 2. :

(a) Each member of Congress shall be elected from a single member district.

(b) The population of all congressional districts shall be reasonably equal. After following this criterion, the Legislature shall adjust the boundary lines according to the criteria set forth and prioritized in paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of subdivision (d) of Section 2. The Legislature shall issue, with its final map, a report that explains the basis on which it made its decisions in achieving compliance with these criteria and shall include definitions of the terms and standards used in drawing its final map.

(c) Congressional districts shall be numbered consecutively commencing at the northern boundary of the State and ending at the southern boundary.

(d) The Legislature shall coordinate with the Citizens Redistricting Commission established pursuant to Section 2 to hold concurrent hearings, provide access to redistricting data and software, and otherwise ensure full public participation in the redistricting process. The Legislature shall comply with the open hearing requirements of paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (7) of subdivision (a) of, and subdivision (b) of, Section 8253 of the Government Code, or its successor provisions of statute.

SECTION 3.2.

Section 2 of Article XXI of the California Constitution is amended to read:

SEC. 2. (a) The Citizens Redistricting Commission shall draw new district lines (also known as “redistricting”) for State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts. This commission shall be created no later than December 31 in 2010, and in each year ending in the number zero thereafter.

(b) The Citizens Redistricting Commission (hereinafter the “commission”) commission shall: (1) conduct an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines; (2) draw district lines according to the redistricting criteria specified in this article; and (3) conduct themselves with integrity and fairness.

(c) (1) The selection process is designed to produce a Citizens Redistricting Commission commission that is independent from legislative influence and reasonably representative of this State’s diversity.

(2) The Citizens Redistricting Commission commission shall consist of 14 members, as follows: five who are registered with the largest political party in California based on registration, five who are registered with the second largest political party in California based on registration, and four who are not registered with either of the two largest political parties in California based on registration.
(3) Each commission member shall be a voter who has been continuously registered in California with the same political party or unaffiliated with a political party and who has not changed political party affiliation for five or more years immediately preceding the date of his or her appointment. Each commission member shall have voted in two of the last three statewide general elections immediately preceding his or her application.
(4) The term of office of each member of the commission expires upon the appointment of the first member of the succeeding commission.
(5) Nine members of the commission shall constitute a quorum. Nine or more affirmative votes shall be required for any official action. The three four final redistricting maps must be approved by at least nine affirmative votes which must include at least three votes of members registered from each of the two largest political parties in California based on registration and three votes from members who are not registered with either of these two political parties.
(6) Each commission member shall apply this article in a manner that is impartial and that reinforces public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process. A commission member shall be ineligible for a period of 10 years beginning from the date of appointment to hold elective public office at the federal, state, county or city level in this State. A member of the commission shall be ineligible for a period of five years beginning from the date of appointment to hold appointive federal, state, or local public office, to serve as paid staff for, or as a paid consultant to, the Board of Equalization, the Congress, the Legislature, or any individual legislator, or to register as a federal, state or local lobbyist in this State

(d) The commission shall establish single-member districts for the Senate, Assembly, Congress, and State Board of Equalization pursuant to a mapping process using the following criteria as set forth in the following order of priority:

(1) Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution. Senate Congressional districts shall achieve population equality as nearly as is practicable, and Senatorial, Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts shall have reasonably equal population with other districts for the same office, except where deviation is required to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act or allowable by law.
(2) Districts shall comply with the federal Voting Rights Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1971 and following).
(3) Districts shall be geographically contiguous.
(4) The geographic integrity of any city, county, city and county, local neighborhood, or local community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes their division to the extent possible without violating the requirements of any of the preceding subdivisions. A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation. Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process. Communities of interest shall not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates.
(5) To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with the criteria above, districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant population.
(6) To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with the criteria above, each Senate district shall be comprised of two whole, complete, and adjacent Assembly districts, and each Board of Equalization district shall be comprised of 10 whole, complete, and adjacent Senate districts.

(e) The place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate shall not be considered in the creation of a map. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate, or political party.

(f) Districts for the Congress, Senate, Assembly, and State Board of Equalization shall be numbered consecutively commencing at the northern boundary of the State and ending at the southern boundary.

(g) By September August 15 in 2011, and in each year ending in the number one thereafter, the commission shall approve four three final maps that separately set forth the district boundary lines for the Senate congressional, Senatorial, Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts. Upon approval, the commission shall certify the four three final maps to the Secretary of State.

(h) The commission shall issue, with each of the four three final maps, a report that explains the basis on which the commission made its decisions in achieving compliance with the criteria listed in subdivision (d) and shall include definitions of the terms and standards used in drawing each final map.

(i) Each certified final map shall be subject to referendum in the same manner that a statute is subject to referendum pursuant to Section 9 of Article II. The date of certification of a final map to the Secretary of State shall be deemed the enactment date for purposes of Section 9 of Article II.

(j) If the commission does not approve a final map by at least the requisite votes or if voters disapprove a certified final map in a referendum, the Secretary of State shall immediately petition the California Supreme Court for an order directing the appointment of special masters to adjust the boundary lines of that map in accordance with the redistricting criteria and requirements set forth in subdivisions (d), (e), and (f). Upon its approval of the masters’ map, the court shall certify the resulting map to the Secretary of State, which map shall constitute the certified final map for the subject type of district.

SECTION 3.3.

Section 3 of Article XXI of the California Constitution is amended to read:

SEC. 3. (a) The commission has the sole legal standing to defend any action regarding a certified final map, and shall inform the Legislature if it determines that funds or other resources provided for the operation of the commission are not adequate. The Legislature shall provide adequate funding to defend any action regarding a certified map. The commission has sole authority to determine whether the Attorney General or other legal counsel retained by the commission shall assist in the defense of a certified final map.

(b) (1) The California Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction in all proceedings in which a certified final map is challenged or is claimed not to have taken timely effect.

(2) Any registered voter in this state may file a petition for a writ of mandate or writ of prohibition, within 45 days after the commission has certified a final map to the Secretary of State, to bar the Secretary of State from implementing the plan on the grounds that the filed plan violates this Constitution, the United States Constitution, or any federal or state statute. Any registered voter in this state may also file a petition for a writ of mandate or writ of prohibition to seek relief where a certified final map is subject to a referendum measure that is likely to qualify and stay the timely implementation of the map.

(3) The California Supreme Court shall give priority to ruling on a petition for a writ of mandate or a writ of prohibition filed pursuant to paragraph (2). If the court determines that a final certified map violates this Constitution, the United States Constitution, or any federal or state statute, the court shall fashion the relief that it deems appropriate, including, but not limited to, the relief set forth in subdivision (j) of Section 2.

SECTION 4. Conflicting Ballot Propositions.

(a) In the event this measure and another measure or measures relating to the redistricting of Senatorial, Assembly, congressional, or Board of Equalization districts are approved by a majority of voters at the same election, and this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes than any other such measure or measures, this measure shall control in its entirety and the other measure or measures shall be rendered void and without any legal effect. If this measure is approved by a majority of the voters but does not receive a greater number of affirmative votes than the other measure or measures, this measure shall take effect to the extent permitted by law.

(b) If this measure is approved by voters but is superseded in whole or in part by the provisions of any other conflicting measure approved by the voters and receiving a greater number of affirmative votes at the same election, and the conflicting measure or any superseding provisions thereof are subsequently held to be invalid, the formerly superseded provisions of this measure shall be self-executing and given full force of law.

SECTION 5. Severability.

The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held to be invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect in the absence of the invalid provision or application.

++Text of Proposition 20 end here++

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