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S.F. No. 2255 - Redistricting Commission and Principles (1st Engrossment)
 
Author: Senator Mary Kiffmeyer
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: March 15, 2019



 

S.F. No. 2255, Article 1, proposes a constitutional amendment to establish an independent redistricting commission that will be responsible for legislative and congressional redistricting. Article 2 includes enabling legislation to accompany the constitutional amendment.  Article 2 also includes redistricting principles. The redistricting principles are not contingent on the constitutional amendment being adopted.

Article 1.  Constitutional Amendment; Redistricting Commission

The following districting principles are added to the constitution:  districts must be compact; districts must be as nearly equal in population as practicable; political subdivisions must not be divided more than necessary; and districts must not be drawn to favor or disfavor a political party. These principles take priority over legislatively enacted principles.

The redistricting commission is responsible for conducting legislative and congressional redistricting. The commission consists of four members. The legislative leaders each appoint one member. A member must be an eligible voter. Members cannot be current or former judges. The commission must hold at least two public hearings in each congressional district before adopting a plan.

By December 31 of a year ending in one, the commission must adopt a plan. For a plan to be adopted, it must be approved by three-fourths of the members. After adoption of a plan, it is filed with the secretary of state and becomes effective for the next election.  The commission expires when plans have been adopted or January 1 in a year ending in two, whichever is earlier.

The legislature must provide a process in law to reconvene the commission.

A districting plan is not subject to the governor’s veto power.

Article 2.  Redistricting Commission; Redistricting Principles 

Section 1. Redistricting commission. This section provides the enabling legislation for the commission proposed in the constitutional amendment in Article 1.

Subd. 1.  Application.  This section applies to the constitutionally created redistricting commission.

Subd. 2.  Appointments; meeting; chair.  The legislative leaders must appoint the members by January 15 of a year ending in one. Any vacancies are filled in the same manner as the initial appointment. By February 1 of a year ending in one, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court must convene the first meeting of the commission. The members must elect a chair from amongst themselves. The commission is subject to the Data Practices Act and the open meeting law. Public members are compensated as provided in chapter 15.

Subd. 3.  Members.  Members must be eligible voters in this state. Current and former judges are not eligible to serve on the commission. While serving on the commission, members must not campaign, make political contributions, or hold a legislative or congressional seat. Each member must take an oath to faithfully perform the duties of the office.

Subd. 4.  Public hearings; proposed plans. The commission must adopt a schedule for interested persons to submit plans to the commission. The commission must hold at least one public hearing in each congressional district before proposing any redistricting plan to gather public input. After the first public hearings, the commission may propose plans. The commission must select one legislative and one congressional plan to present to the public for input. The plans must be posted on the Legislative Coordinating Commission’s website. Then the commission must hold a second hearing in each congressional district.

Subd. 5.  Adoption of plan.  After completing the public hearings required in subdivision 4, but before December 31 in a year ending in one, the commission must adopt legislative and congressional redistricting plans.

Subd. 6.  Reports.  Each plan must be accompanied by detailed maps of each district and an explanation of how the commission complied with redistricting principles.

Subd. 7.  Administrative support. The Legislative Coordinating Commission must provide the commission with administrative support, meeting and work space, equipment, and other assistance as requested by the commission.

Subd. 8. Reconvening the redistricting commission. The redistricting commission may be reconvened after it has expired by a two-thirds vote of each body of the legislature. The commission may amend the existing plans or adopt new plans. The reconvened commission must follow the same procedures.

This section is effective December 1, 2020 if the constitutional amendment in Article 1 is adopted.

Section 2, subdivision 1.  Applicability; constitutional duty of legislature. The principles in this section apply to legislative and congressional districts.

Subd. 2. Convenience; contiguity; compactness. The districts must be composed of convenient, contiguous, and compact territory.

Subd. 3. Nesting. Two House districts must be nested in each Senate district.

Subd. 4. Numbering. Legislative districts are numbered beginning with house district 1A in the northwest corner of the state, proceeding west to east and north to south, but bypassing the 11-county metro area, until the southeast corner is reached. Then the 11-county metro area is numbered outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and then Minneapolis and St. Paul are numbered. Congressional districts begin with district 1 in the southeast corner and end with district 8 in the northeast corner.

Subd. 5. Equal population. Legislative districts must be as nearly equal in population as practicable and must not deviate from the ideal by more than one percent. Congressional districts must be as nearly equal as practicable.

Subd. 6. Minor civil divisions. Counties, cities, and towns must not be divided more than necessary unless required to meet equal population requirements or to form a convenient, contiguous district.

Subd. 7. Political parties. A district must not be drawn purposely to favor or disfavor a political party.

Subd. 8. Minority representation. A plan must not have the intent or effect of dispersing or concentrating minority population in a manner that prevents minority communities from electing their candidate of choice.

Subd. 9. Preserving communities of interest. A plan should attempt to preserve identifiable communities of interest where possible.

Subd. 10. Data to be used. The geographic areas and population counts used must be those used by the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office of the Legislative Coordinating Commission.

Subd. 11. Consideration of plans. A plan must not be considered for adoption until the plan’s block equivalency file has been submitted to the GIS Office.

Subd. 12. Priority of principles. When it is not possible to fully comply with all principles, a plan must comply with the principles contained in the constitution (which correspond to subdivisions 2 to 7) and then give priority to other criteria in the order in which they are listed (which correspond to subdivisions 7 and 8, in that order).

Section 3.  Repealer.  Minnesota Statutes, section 204B.14, subdivision 1a, is repealed. This is a statutory deadline for the legislature to complete redistricting.

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