Bill Text: NH CACR9 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to redistricting. Providing that an independent redistricting commission shall be established to draw boundaries for state and federal offices.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-02-20 - Retained in Committee [CACR9 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2019-CACR9-Introduced.html

CACR 9 - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2019 SESSION

19-0769

06/10

 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 9

 

RELATING TO: redistricting.

 

PROVIDING THAT: an independent redistricting commission shall be established to draw boundaries for state and federal offices.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Doherty, Merr. 20; Rep. Porter, Hills. 1; Rep. Belanger, Hills. 27; Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6; Rep. Huot, Belk. 3; Sen. Dietsch, Dist 9

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution establishes an independent redistricting commission to draw the boundaries for state and federal elections.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type

 

19-0769

06/10

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand nineteen

 

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION PROPOSING CONSITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

 

RELATING TO: redistricting.

 

PROVIDING THAT: an independent redistricting commission shall be established to draw boundaries for state and federal offices.

 

Be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that the

Constitution of New Hampshire be amended as follows:

 

I.  That the second part of the constitution be amended by inserting after article 8 the following new article:

[Art.] 8-a. [Independent Redistricting Commission.] An Independent Redistricting Commission whose function is to draw election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in New Hampshire is essential to ensure a robust democratic process.  Therefore:

(a)  There is hereby established a nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission which shall be charged with establishing all election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in New Hampshire.  This commission is established so that henceforth elections shall reflect to the greatest extent possible the wishes of the voters of New Hampshire by eliminating partisan distortions of electoral districts.

(b)  The commission shall consist of seven members of the public.  No current legislator, employee of a political party or political campaign, or any registered lobbyist shall serve on the commission.  The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate shall each appoint one member.  The initial four members shall be appointed by notification to the Secretary of State no later than January 3, 2021.  Within sixty days of appointment the initial four members shall meet at a time and place designated by the Secretary of State in order to select three additional members through a public application process to be administered by the Secretary of State.  The process shall include essays, letters of recommendation, background investigations, and interviews.  Each of the three additional members shall require the votes of at least three of the four initial members.  Should the four members fail to nominate additional members with the requisite three votes, the positions not filled shall be picked at random from the applicants.  Once the initial four members have been selected, no person shall be selected if such selection results in more than two members of the commission having their voting domicile in any one county.

(c)  In the event of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office, a member of the Commission may be removed by the Governor with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Senate after having been served written notice and provided with an opportunity for a response.  The remaining members shall replace the removed member with another member of the public from the same political party as the removed member.

(d)  The terms of all Commissioners shall be for ten years.  A member may be re-appointed upon the expiration of his or her term, to serve a maximum of two terms.  The members shall elect annually a chairperson from among the members.

(e)  No Independent Redistricting Commission member shall make a contribution to any candidate for office or political committee during the time he or she serves on the Commission.

(f)  The Commission shall be authorized to conduct the redistricting of the State required by the state Constitution in the year after the results of the decennial federal census.  The Commission shall establish single or multi-member districts for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and single member districts for the New Hampshire Senate, Executive Council and U.S. Congressional offices using the following criteria in the following order of priority:

(1)  Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and all applicable federal laws.  Districts shall be drawn on the basis of total population.

(2)  Districts shall be geographically contiguous.

(3)  Districts shall provide racial minorities and language minorities with an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and shall not diminish their ability to elect candidates of choice whether alone or in coalition with others.

(4)  Districts shall respect the integrity of communities of interest to the extent practicable.  A community of interest is defined as an area with recognized similarities of interests, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, economic, social, cultural, geographic, or historic identities.  Communities of interest shall not include common relationships with political parties or political candidates.

(5)  Districts shall respect the geographic integrity of political boundaries to the extent practicable without violating the requirements of state law or this Constitution.

(6)  The plan as a whole shall not have the intent or the effect of unduly favoring or disfavoring any political party or incumbent or candidate for political office.

(g)  The Commission shall forward the plan to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate before January 1 of each year ending in two.  To approve the new maps, the maps must receive five "yes" votes from the Commission, three "yes" votes from members appointed by the president of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and two "yes" votes from the other members.  Upon its approval, the Commission shall certify the final map to the Secretary of State.

(h)  If the Commission fails to adopt and file a redistricting plan by November 1 of the odd year following a federal decennial census, the New Hampshire Supreme Court shall appoint, by December 1, a special master to create a plan in accordance with the redistricting criteria and requirements set forth in paragraph (f).  The Supreme Court shall make the special master's plan public and schedule a hearing where interested parties may present testimony and other evidence regarding the plan's compliance with redistricting criteria.  The Supreme Court shall modify or adopt the proposed plan no later than April 1 of the year ending in two and certify the results to the Secretary of State, which shall constitute the final certified plan.

(i)  The 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.  Any registered voter in this State may file a petition, within forty-five 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.  The New Hampshire Supreme Court shall give priority to ruling on any matter related to redistricting presented to the Court.  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 paragraph (h).

II.  That article 9 of the second part of the constitution be amended to read as follows:

[Art.] 9. [Representatives Elected Every Second Year; Apportionment of Representatives.] There shall be in the Legislature of this State a House of Representatives, biennially elected and founded on principles of equality, and representation therein shall be as equal as circumstances will admit.  The whole number of representatives to be chosen from the towns, wards, places, and representative districts thereof established hereunder, shall be not less than three hundred seventy-five or more than four hundred.  As soon as possible after the convening of the next regular session of the Legislature, and at the session in 1971, and every ten years thereafter, the [legislature] Independent Redistricting Commission shall make an apportionment of representatives according to the last general census of the inhabitants of the State taken by authority of the United States or of this State.  In making such apportionment, no town, ward or place shall be divided nor the boundaries thereof altered.

III.  That article 11 of the second part of the constitution be amended to read as follows:

[Art.] 11. [Small Towns; Representation by Districts.] When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats.  The apportionment shall not deny any other town or ward membership in one non-floterial representative district.  When any town, ward, or unincorporated place has fewer than the number of inhabitants necessary to entitle it to one representative, the [legislature] Independent Redistricting Commission shall form those towns, wards, or unincorporated places into representative districts which contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to entitle each district so formed to one or more representatives for the entire district.  In forming the districts, the boundaries of towns, wards, and unincorporated places shall be preserved and contiguous.  The excess number of inhabitants of a district may be added to the excess number of inhabitants of other districts to form at-large or floterial districts conforming to acceptable deviations.  The [legislature] Independent Redistricting Commission shall form the representative districts at the regular session following every decennial federal census.

IV.  That article 26 of the second part of the constitution be amended to read as follows:

[Art.] 26. [Senatorial Districts, How Constituted.] And that the State may be equally represented in the Senate, the Legislature shall divide the State into single member districts, as nearly equal as may be in population, each consisting of contiguous towns, city wards and unincorporated places, without dividing any town, city ward or unincorporated place.  The [legislature] Independent Redistricting Commission shall form the single member districts at its next session after approval of this article by the voters of the state and thereafter at the regular session following each decennial federal census.

V.  That the above amendment proposed to the constitution be submitted to the qualified voters of the state at the state general election to be held in November, 2020.

VI.  That the selectmen of all towns, cities, wards and places in the state are directed to insert in their warrants for the said 2020 election an article to the following effect:  To decide whether the amendments of the constitution proposed by the 2019 session of the general court shall be approved.

VII.  That the wording of the question put to the qualified voters shall be:

“Are you in favor of amending the second part of the Constitution by inserting after article 8 a new article 8-a, and by amending articles 9, 11, and 26 to read as follows:

[Art.] 8-a. [Independent Redistricting Commission.] An Independent Redistricting Commission whose function is to draw election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in New Hampshire is essential to ensure a robust of the democratic process.  Therefore:

(a)  There is hereby established a nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission which shall be charged with establishing all election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in New Hampshire.  This commission is established so that henceforth elections shall reflect to the greatest extent possible the wishes of the voters of New Hampshire by eliminating partisan distortions of electoral districts.

(b)  The commission shall consist of seven members of the public.  No current legislator, employee of a political party or political campaign, or any registered lobbyist shall serve on the commission.  The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate shall each appoint one member.  The initial four members shall be appointed-by notification to the Secretary of State no later than January 3, 2021.  Within sixty days of appointment the initial four members shall meet at a time and place designated by the secretary of state in order to select three additional members through a public application process to be administered by the Secretary of State.  The process shall include essays, letters of recommendation, background investigations, and interviews.  Each of the three additional members shall require the votes of at least three of the four initial members.  Should the four members fail to nominate additional members with the requisite three votes, the positions not filled shall be picked at random from the applicants.  Once the initial four members have been selected, no person shall be selected if such selection results in more than two members of the commission having their voting domicile in any one county.

(c)  In the event of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office, a member of the Commission may be removed by the Governor with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Senate after having been served written notice and provided with an opportunity for a response.  The remaining members shall replace the removed member with another member of the public from the same political party as the removed member.

(d)  The terms of all Commissioners shall be for ten years.  A member may be re-appointed upon the expiration of his or her term, to serve a maximum of two terms.  The members shall elect annually a chairperson from among the members.

(e)  No Independent Redistricting Commission member shall make a contribution to any candidate for office or political committee during the time he or she serves on the Commission.

(f)  The Commission shall be authorized to conduct the redistricting of the State required by the state Constitution in the year after the results of the decennial federal census.  The Commission shall establish single or multi-member districts for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and single member districts for the New Hampshire Senate, Executive Council and U.S. Congressional offices using the following criteria in the following order of priority:

(1)  Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and all applicable federal laws.  Districts shall be drawn on the basis of total population.

(2)  Districts shall be geographically contiguous.

(3)  Districts shall provide racial minorities and language minorities with an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and shall not diminish their ability to elect candidates of choice whether alone or in coalition with others.

(4)  Districts shall respect the integrity of communities of interest to the extent practicable.  A community of interest is defined as an area with recognized similarities of interests, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, economic, social, cultural, geographic, or historic identities.  Communities of interest shall not include common relationships with political parties or political candidates.

(5)  Districts shall respect the geographic integrity of political boundaries to the extent practicable without violating the requirements of state law or any of the preceding subdivisions.

(6)  The plan as a whole shall not have the intent or the effect of unduly favoring or disfavoring any political party or incumbent or candidate for political office.

(g)  The Commission shall forward the plan to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate before January 1 of each year ending in two.  To approve the new maps, the maps must receive five "yes" votes from the Commission, three "yes" votes from members appointed by the president of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and two "yes" votes from the other members.  Upon its approval, the Commission shall certify the final map to the Secretary of State.

(h)  If the Commission fails to adopt and file a redistricting plan by November 1 of the odd year following a federal decennial census, the New Hampshire Supreme Court shall appoint, by December 1, a special master to create a plan in accordance with the redistricting criteria and requirements set forth in paragraph (f).  The Supreme Court shall make the special master's plan public and schedule a hearing where interested parties may present testimony and other evidence regarding the plan's compliance with redistricting criteria.  The Supreme Court shall modify or adopt the proposed plan no later than April 1 of the year ending in two and certify the results to the Secretary of State, which shall constitute the final certified plan.

(i)  The 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.  Any registered voter in this State may file a petition, 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.  The New Hampshire Supreme Court shall give priority to ruling on any matter related to redistricting presented to the Court.  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 paragraph (h).

[Art.] 9. [Representatives Elected Every Second Year; Apportionment of Representatives.] There shall be in the Legislature of this State a House of Representatives, biennially elected and founded on principles of equality, and representation therein shall be as equal as circumstances will admit.  The whole number of representatives to be chosen from the towns, wards, places, and representative districts thereof established hereunder, shall be not less than three hundred seventy-five or more than four hundred.  As soon as possible after the convening of the next regular session of the Legislature, and at the session in 1971, and every ten years thereafter, the Independent Redistricting Commission shall make an apportionment of representatives according to the last general census of the inhabitants of the State taken by authority of the United States or of this State.  In making such apportionment, no town, ward or place shall be divided nor the boundaries thereof altered.

[Art.] 11. [Small Towns; Representation by Districts.] When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats.  The apportionment shall not deny any other town or ward membership in one non-floterial representative district.  When any town, ward, or unincorporated place has fewer than the number of inhabitants necessary to entitle it to one representative, the Independent Redistricting Commission shall form those towns, wards, or unincorporated places into representative districts which contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to entitle each district so formed to one or more representatives for the entire district.  In forming the districts, the boundaries of towns, wards, and unincorporated places shall be preserved and contiguous.  The excess number of inhabitants of a district may be added to the excess number of inhabitants of other districts to form at-large or floterial districts conforming to acceptable deviations.  The Independent Redistricting Commission shall form the representative districts at the regular session following every decennial federal census.

[Art.] 26. [Senatorial Districts, How Constituted.] And that the State may be equally represented in the Senate, the Legislature shall divide the State into single member districts, as nearly equal as may be in population, each consisting of contiguous towns, city wards and unincorporated places, without dividing any town, city ward or unincorporated place.  The Independent Redistricting Commission  shall form the single member districts at its next session after approval of this article by the voters of the state and thereafter at the regular session following each decennial federal census."

VIII.  That the secretary of state shall print the question to be submitted on a separate ballot or on the same ballot with other constitutional questions.  The ballot containing the question shall include 2 squares next to the question allowing the voter to vote “Yes” or “No.”  If no cross is made in either of the squares, the ballot shall not be counted on the question.  The outside of the ballot shall be the same as the regular official ballot except that the words “Questions Relating to Constitutional Amendments proposed by the 2019 General Court” shall be printed in bold type at the top of the ballot.

IX.  That if the proposed amendment is approved by 2/3 of those voting on the amendment, it becomes effective when the governor proclaims its adoption.

X.  Voters' Guide.

AT THE PRESENT TIME, the state legislature apportions state representatives according to the last United States census or state census.

IF THE AMENDMENT IS ADOPTED, election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in the state shall be established by a nonpartisan independent redistricting commission.

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