2018 Legislative Agenda

OneVirginia2021 Unveils its 2018 Legislative Watch List

January 12, 2018

On the first week of this year’s General Assembly session, OneVirginia2021 is unveiling its 2018 Legislative Watch List. This is comprised of redistricting bills our organization supports and bills we are actively tracking as they move their way through committees and subcommittees. This list will be updated as necessary in the coming weeks.

“With the 2020 census right around the corner, we are thrilled that lawmakers from both parties are looking to make our redistricting process fairer and more transparent here in Virginia,” said Executive Director Brian Cannon. “It is our hope that the General Assembly will take this issue as seriously as their constituents do, and that real progress is made in the next two years, starting with this slate of bills we support.”

As of today, there have been 18 bills filed in the General Assembly on redistricting reform. Some of these call for a constitutional amendment to form a redistricting commission, while others tackle remedies for compactness, interim solution pending litigation, and political gerrymandering. Other bills impact split precincts that we are tracking. A full breakdown of the bills is below.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

While customarily the General Assembly does not hear first-read constitutional amendments in even numbered years (all of the below amendment proposals are “first-read”), there are still numerous great bills before the General Assembly. SJ25 and HJ21 are our “gold” standard. Other bills also do a great job of addressing the problem of gerrymandering.

SJ25 (Emmett Hanger) establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission in the Virginia Constitution, which is comprised of seven members: the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Senate leader of the opposing party, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the House leader of the opposing party, the Auditor of Public Accounts, the State Inspector General, and the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: Senate: 1/16/18 Continued to 2019 in Privileges and Elections (14-Y, 0-N)

HJ21 (Rip Sullivan) would institute the Virginia Redistricting Commission in the Virginia Constitution, comprised of seven bi-partisan or non-partisan members that would certify district maps after every census. These members include the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Senate leader of the opposing party, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the House leader of the opposing party, the Auditor of Public Accounts, the State Inspector General, and the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HJ5 (Rip Sullivan) provides criteria for a constitutional amendment ensuring that districts are not drawn with favor to a certain political party, candidate or incumbent legislator.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HJ71 (Betsy Carr) establishes the Virginia Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission in the Virginia Constitution, made up of seven members appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia from a list of retired judges.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HJ83 (Ken Plum) is a constitutional amendment bill that would create the Virginia Redistricting Commission, comprised of thirteen members, with appointments being made as follows: two each by the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the minority leader in each house, and the state chairman of each of the two political parties receiving the most votes in the prior gubernatorial election. The thirteenth member will be chosen by the other twelve on a majority vote.

This is the bill that Delegate Plum first introduced February 1, 1982.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/12/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HJ104 (Steve Heretick) Establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission to redraw congressional and General Assembly district boundaries after each decennial census. Appointments to the 13-member Commission are to be made as follows: two each by the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the minority leader in each house, and the state chairman of each of the two political parties receiving the most votes in the prior gubernatorial election. The 12 partisan members then select the thirteenth member by a majority vote or, if they cannot agree on a selection, certify the two names receiving the most votes to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which will name the thirteenth member. The standards to govern redistricting plans include the current constitutional standards on population equality, compactness, and contiguity and additional standards to minimize splits of localities and to prohibit consideration of incumbency and political data.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HJ35 (John Bell) proposes a constitutional amendment to form the Virginia Redistricting Commission, which would also require districts be drawn using the Shortest Split methodology, which divides the geographic area of the Commonwealth into two halves of approximately equal population based on the official decennial census redistricting numbers, choosing the shortest possible dividing line to split the state. The division of halves shall continue until the required number of districts is achieved.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Neutral

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

REFERENDUM

SB534 (Monty Mason) and HB1381 (Dawn Adams) provides for a statewide referendum on the question of whether there should be an independent redistricting commission established in Virginia for the purpose of drawing the district maps for the House of Delegates, Senate of Virginia, and congressional districts. The results would be advisory only and are intended only to demonstrate the preference of the citizens of the Commonwealth on the manner in which electoral districts are created. The referendum would be held at the November 2018 general election.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Delegate Dawn Adams will have a companion bill in the House of Delegates that is similar to the above.

Update SB534: Senate: 1/16/18 Defeated in Privileges and Elections Committee (6-Y, 8-N).

YEAS: Howell, Deeds, Edwards, Ebbin, Dance, Spruill – 6                                                                                                NAYS: Vogel, Reeves, Chafin, DeSteph, Chase, Ruff, Cosgrove, Peake. – 8

Update HB1381: House: 1/22/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

ADVISORY COMMISSIONS

HB205 (Rip Sullivan) would provide criteria for the drawing of congressional and/or state legislative districts when such districts have been declared unconstitutional by a state or federal court.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

SB19 (Louise Lucas) SB598 (Vogel) and HB276 (Sam Rasoul) are identical bills that would establish the Virginia Interim Redistricting Commission, which would re-draw a district line if/when lines are deemed unconstitutional.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: SB19 (Louise Lucas) & SB598: Senate: 1/16/18 Committee substitute printed, incorporates both Bills (14-Y, 0-N).

Update: HB276 House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges in Elections

SB427 (Lynwood Lewis) Provides a new method for the preparation of state legislative and congressional redistricting plans. The bill specifies standards for developing plans, including population equality, compactness, maintenance of cores of existing districts, and respect for locality boundaries, and precludes consideration of incumbency and political data in developing plans. The bill assigns responsibility to the Division of Legislative Services (the Division) to prepare plans for submission to the General Assembly and establishes a temporary redistricting advisory commission to advise the Division, disseminate information on plans, and hold hearings for public comment on plans. The bill provides that the General Assembly may reject the Division’s plans and may ultimately amend the plans. The bill is patterned after the Iowa redistricting process.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: Senate: 1/16/18 Failed to report, Defeated in Privileges and Elections (7-Y, 7-N).

STUDIES

HB312 (Jeion Ward) would require a special joint reapportionment committee to hold public hearings throughout Virginia regarding the redistricting process. The committee will be comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans, and will submit a report of the public comments to the General Assembly.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Delegate Jay Jonese will have a JLARC study on this issue as well that OneVirginia2021 supports.

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Rules

ANTI-GERRYMANDERING PROVISIONS

HB616 (Marcia Price) will prohibit any district line from being drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or candidate.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HB784 (Mark Keam) Provides criteria for the General Assembly to observe in drawing districts, including respect for political boundaries, equal population, racial and ethnic fairness, contiguity, compactness, and communities of interest. Use of political data or election results is prohibited unless necessary to ensure maximum competitiveness among the political parties present in the district or to ensure that racial or ethnic minorities can elect candidates of their choice.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

SB106 (David Suetterlein) would implement a compactness standard to all districts, meaning lines should not form oddly shaped or have irregular or contorted boundaries.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update:

Senate: 1/26/18 Read third time and passed Senate (22-Y, 17-N).

House: 2/28/18 Passage (90-Y, 9-N).

SB752 (Glen Sturtevant) Provides criteria for the General Assembly to observe in drawing districts, including respect for political boundaries, equal population, racial and ethnic fairness, contiguity, compactness, and communities of interest. The bill prohibits use of political data or election results unless necessary to determine if racial or ethnic minorities can elect candidates of their choice.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: Senate: 1/16/18 Incorporated by Privileges and Elections (SB106) (14-Y, 0-N).

SB718 (Amanda Chase)  Provides criteria for the General Assembly to observe in drawing districts, including respect for political boundaries, equal population, racial and ethnic fairness, contiguity, compactness, and communities of interest. The bill prohibits use of political data or election results unless necessary to determine if racial or ethnic minorities can elect candidates of their choice.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: Senate: 1/16/18 Incorporated by Privileges and Elections (SB106) (14-Y, 0-N).

SB978 (Lynwood Lewis) Develops criteria for remedial redistricting plans. The criteria articulated by the bill includes equal population required between districts, accordance with the Voting Rights Act, contiguity, compactness, respecting political boundaries to the maximum extent possible, and respecting communities of interest to the maximum extent practicable. No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring a particular party, incumbent legislator, or potential candidate.

OneVirginia2021 Position: Support

Update: Senate: 1/30/18 Passed by indefinitely in Privileges and Elections (9-Y, 4-N).

Bills to Track:

The bills aren’t directly related to redistricting reform, but given the attention that is rightfully being paid to split precincts, we are watching these closely. It’s worth noting that any of the above bills would have prevented the problems we’ve seen emerge these last few months.

HB158 (Mark Cole) authorizes the General Assembly to make technical adjustments to legislative districts in order to align legislative districts with local voting precinct boundaries.

Update:

House: 2/1/18 VOTE, Passage (50Y, 48N).

Senate: 2/2/18 Constitutional Reading dispensed (40-Y, 0-N).

HB299 (Vivian Watts) is intended to eliminate split precincts by requiring localities to adjust local election lines to match the district lines drawn by the General Assembly.

Update: House: 2/13/18 Left in Privileges and Elections

HB767 (Chris Jones) prohibits election precincts to be changed between February 1, 2019, and May 15, 2021, except in certain specified circumstances.

Update:

House: 2/1/18 Block Vote Passage 2. (98-Y, 0-N).

Senate: 2/22/18 Constitutional Reading Dispensed (40-Y, 0-N).

SB322 (Mark Peake) prohibits split precincts by requiring that each precinct by wholly contained within a single election district.

Update: Senate: 1/30/18 Incorporated by Privileges and Elections (SB983) (13-Y, 0-N).

SB323 (Mark Peake) establishes a seven-member Virginia Independent Redistricting Review Commission, which will review district maps adopted by the General Assembly in order to prevent split precincts.

Update: Senate: 1/30/18 Continued to 2019 in Privileges and Elections (12-Y, 0-N).