News

BREAKING: General Assembly Votes to Create Virginia’s First Redistricting Commission

February 23, 2019

To our dedicated supporters,

Today, OneVirginia2021 is thrilled to report that the Virginia General Assembly has taken the first crucial step toward truly reforming the way Virginia draws its legislative districts, including citizens in the redistricting process for the first time and correcting the hyperpartisan process of the past.

Worked out by a conference committee, this compromise proposal of HJ615 (Cole) and SJ306 (Barker) reconciled both proposed redistricting commission amendments to the Virginia Constitution intended to reform the way Virginia’s districts are drawn after the 2020 Census and beyond.

And although this bipartisan plan does not reflect every provision we urged in our original proposal, make no mistake: This reform will end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia. We are particularly gratified that the General Assembly adopted language that requires the commission to do its work in full public view and follow clear rules that keep our communities together.

 

ABOUT THE COMPROMISE PROPOSAL

The compromise shares a number of substantive provisions found in the House plan, Senate plan and SJ274, a bipartisan proposal drafted with the help of OneVirginia2021’s Citizens Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee.

Here are key elements in the reform passed by the House of Delegates and the Senate on Saturday:

  • Establishes a Redistricting Commission of 8 legislators and 8 citizens, with a citizen serving as chair
  • Requires full transparency of all meetings, minutes and data
  • Includes specific protections for minority communities
  • Includes impartial review in the selection of citizen members of the commission
  • Excludes unelected congressional or General Assembly employees from the commission
  • Guards against partisan gerrymandering by requiring a supermajority of commissioners for approval of district maps
  • Provides the General Assembly only up-or-down votes on the commission’s maps, without amendments
  • Excludes the Governor from the approval process, which would throw off the balance created by the above framework

 

OUR GRATITUDE

After five years of grassroots advocacy, bipartisan lawmaker outreach and countless volunteer hours, OneVirginia2021 made a giant leap forward today. This is due in no small part to the dedication of our volunteer leaders, boards, staff and nearly 100,000 supporters across the Commonwealth.

On behalf of our volunteer leaders, boards, staff; and nearly 100,000 supporters across the Commonwealth, we would like to thank the members of the Conference Committee for their willingness to compromise and create a plan that gives Virginians a better way to draw district lines than the hyperpolitical process we have now: Senators Jill Vogel, George Barker and John Cosgrove as well as Delegates Mark Cole, Nick Rush, Jay Leftwich and Paul Krizek.

Further, we want to gratefully acknowledge the many legislative champions that have worked alongside us during this legislative session, including Senators Emmett Hanger, Mamie Locke and Glen Sturtevant.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the recent efforts of Wyatt Durrette and the entire bipartisan Drafting Committee, Leadership Council and Governor George Allen — as well as our dedicated grassroots advocates and volunteers from every corner of the Commonwealth.

Further, today also reminds us of the tireless efforts of one of the biggest early champions we had in this movement, the late Senator John Miller.

 

NEXT STEPS

This is just the first step to amend the Virginia Constitution. Looking ahead, OneVirginia2021 will work to ensure this reform is passed again by the 2020 General Assembly and then wins Virginia voters’ approval in a statewide referendum in November 2020.

We plan on engaging all of our supporters moving forward to ensure these next steps are a success.

And although there’s still a long way to go, the bipartisan victory in this session makes us more determined than ever to end gerrymandering in Virginia once and for all.