Bill S2892-2009

Proposes a constitutional amendment to create a non-partisan apportionment commission

Proposes a constitutional amendment to create a non-partisan five member apportionment committee, four members of which shall be appointed by the majority and minority officers of the legislature and the fifth to be selected by the aforesaid four, to create new legislative districts; requires districts to be as compact as possible; sets standards for establishment of legislative districts.

Details

Actions

  • Feb 1, 2010: OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Jan 12, 2010: TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • Jan 6, 2010: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Mar 31, 2009: OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Mar 9, 2009: TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • Mar 5, 2009: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Memo

 BILL NUMBER:  S2892

TITLE OF BILL : CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY proposing an amendment to article 3 of the constitution, in relation to creating a non-partisan apportionment commission

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : To create a five member non-partisan apportionment committee for the purpose of creating new legislative districts every ten years.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section one amends sections 4 and 5 of Article 3 of the Constitution, and adds a new Section 5-b.

* Article 3 Section 4 is amended to charge a reapportionment commission (rather than the Legislature) with the responsibility for apportionment of the Assembly members and adjustment or alteration of Senate and Assembly districts. Added language provides that:

* In no case shall a Senate district have a population which varies from the average population of all districts, unless a population variance is necessary to comply with one of the other standards set forth in this section, and in no case shall a single district have a population which varies more than five percent from the average population of all districts. Congressional districts shall have populations as nearly equal as is practicable based on the population reported in the federal census taken in each year ending in zero. No district for election of members to the United States House of Representatives shall have a population that varies by more than one percent from the average population of all congressional districts in the state.

* The districts of a house shall be as compact as possible, consistent with the standards listed above. In no case shall the aggregate length of the boundaries of all the districts of a house exceed by more than five percent the shortest possible aggregate length of all the districts under any other plan for the same house that is consistent with the other standards contained in the Constitution. In the case of a local political subdivision that has a population sufficient to establish two or more districts for anyone house, the aggregate length of the boundaries of all districts for that house entirely within the political subdivision shall not exceed by more than five percent the shortest possible aggregate length of the districts within the political subdivision under any other plan that is consistent with the other standards contained in the Constitution.

* Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person or group. In preparing a plan, the commission shall not consider or take into account the address of individual persons, including incumbent legislators. The commission shall not use the political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, addresses of incumbent legislators, addresses of individual persons and demographic information other than population head counts for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person or group. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or racial minority group.

* Article 3 Section 5 is also amended to transfer apportionment responsibility from the legislature to an apportioning commission, and imposes requirements on the adjustment of Assembly districts according to the standards set forth for the Senate above.

* New language regarding supreme court jurisdiction over reapportionment is substituted for existing language, giving deadlines for: filing a petition challenging the commission's apportionment plan (within 45 days of the plan's adoption); for the court to render a decision (within 60 days after a petition is filed); and for the commission to prepare a new plan should the court find that the original plan is inconsistent with any state or federal constitutional or statutory provision (within 60 days of the court's decision).

* New language is added providing that a reapportionment plan shall be in force until the effective date of a plan based on the next census unless it is modified by court order. A plan shall not be subject to amendment, approval or repeal by initiative, referendum or act of the Legislature.

* New language is added providing that the Legislature may define by law any of the standards in this section and may establish by law additional standards, consistent with federal and state constitutional provisions, designed to guarantee fair and effective representation for all citizens. No law shall modify a plan in effect at the time of the effective date of that law.

* A new Section 5-b is added to Article 3 providing that in each census year and at any other time of court ordered apportionment, a commission shall be established to prepare a reapportionment plan for state legislative and congressional districts. The commission shall consist of five members, none of whom may be past or current public officials, nor past or current office holders in any political party. The Temporary President of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, the Minority Leader of the Senate and the Minority Leader of the Assembly shall each select one member. The four members shall select, by a vote of at least three members, a fifth member who shall serve as chair. The Legislature shall establish by law qualifications of commissioners and procedures for their selection and the filling of vacancies. The Legislature shall establish by law the duties and powers of the commission and shall appropriate funds to enable the commission to carry out its duties.

JUSTIFICATION : At the beginning of each decade, the Legislature, based on the results of United States census, must redraw the lines that delineate Assembly and Senate districts. This reapportionment process is necessary to maintain the "one person, one vote" principle embodied in our constitution. Currently, the majority parties in each house have de facto control of drawing the district lines. There is widespread perception that the redrawing of district lines is a politically charged process widely misused for political purposes. That New York elections demonstrate unusually high re-election rates, and persistently produce a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate, no doubt contributes to this perception. Moreover, we see convoluted districts that snake throughout counties, including or excluding towns, blocks and even individual streets. This suggests that new districts are often drawn to favor the election of a candidate from a certain party, and that areas are included or excluded based on their political and electoral proclivities rather than a true commonality of interest. This bill provides for a process far less vulnerable to charges of politicization. It assigns the responsibility for drawing lines not to the Legislature but to a reapportionment Commission composed of individuals who do not hold elective office. The majority and minority leaders of both houses would each appoint one member to this committee. These four members would elect a fifth member to serve as chairman. These members are insulated from political motivations and self-interest in the redistricting process, and could redraw the districts more objectively. The bill also combats perceptions of gerrymandering by providing that each district be as compact as

possible and by barring the use of information other than the United States Census in the reapportionment plan.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : S.487 of 2007-2008 S.779 of 2001-2002 S.988 of 1999-2000 S.3445 of 1997-1998 S.3053 of 1995-1996 S.8120 of 1993-1994

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.

EFFECTIVE DATE : This is a constitutional amendment requiring passage by two successive legislatures and approval by the voters.

Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2892 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 5, 2009 ___________
Introduced by Sen. BONACIC -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY proposing an amendment to article 3 of the constitution, in relation to creating a non-partisan apportionment commission Section 1. Resolved (if the Assembly concur), That sections 4 and 5 of article 3 of the constitution be amended, and a new section 5-b be added to read as follows: S 4. Except as herein otherwise provided, the federal census taken in the year nineteen hundred thirty and each federal census taken decenni- ally thereafter shall be controlling as to the number of inhabitants in the state or any part thereof for the purposes of the apportionment of members of assembly and readjustment or alteration of senate and assem- bly districts next occurring, in so far as such census and the tabu- lation thereof purport to give the information necessary therefor. [The legislature] AN APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION, by law, shall provide for the making and tabulation by state authorities of an enumeration of the inhabitants of the entire state to be used for such purposes, instead of a federal census, if the taking of a federal census in any tenth year from the year nineteen hundred thirty be omitted or if the federal census fails to show the number of aliens or Indians not taxed. If a federal census, though giving the requisite information as to the state at large, fails to give the information as to any civil or territorial divisions which is required to be known for such purposes, the [legisla- ture] COMMISSION, by law, shall provide for such an enumeration of the inhabitants of such parts of the state only as may be necessary, which shall supersede in part the federal census and be used in connection therewith for such purposes. The [legislature] COMMISSION, by law, may provide in its discretion for an enumeration by state authorities of the inhabitants of the state, to be used for such purposes, in place of a federal census, when the return of a decennial federal census is delayed so that it is not available at the beginning of the regular session of EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD89029-01-9 S. 2892 2 the legislature in the second year after the year nineteen hundred thir- ty or after any tenth year therefrom, or if an apportionment of members of assembly and readjustment or alteration of senate districts is not made at or before such a session. At the regular session in the year nineteen hundred thirty-two, and at the first regular session after the year nineteen hundred forty and after each tenth year therefrom the senate districts shall be readjusted or altered, but if, in any decade, counting from and including that which begins with the year nineteen hundred thirty-one, such a readjustment or alteration is not made at the time above prescribed, it shall be made at a subsequent session occur- ring not later than the sixth year of such decade, meaning not later than nineteen hundred thirty-six, nineteen hundred forty-six, nineteen hundred fifty-six, and so on; provided, however, that if such districts shall have been readjusted or altered by law in either of the years nineteen hundred thirty or nineteen hundred thirty-one, they shall remain unaltered until the first regular session after the year nineteen hundred forty. Such districts shall be so readjusted or altered that each senate district shall contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, and IN NO CASE SHALL A DISTRICT HAVE A POPULATION WHICH VARIES FROM THE AVERAGE POPULATION OF ALL DISTRICTS, UNLESS A POPULATION VARIANCE IS NECESSARY TO COMPLY WITH ONE OF THE OTHER STANDARDS SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION, AND IN NO CASE SHALL A SINGLE DISTRICT HAVE A POPULATION WHICH VARIES MORE THAN FIVE PERCENT FROM THE AVERAGE POPULATION OF ALL DISTRICTS. CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS SHALL HAVE POPULATIONS AS NEARLY EQUAL AS IS PRACTICABLE BASED ON THE POPULATION REPORTED IN THE FEDERAL CENSUS TAKEN IN EACH YEAR ENDING IN ZERO. NO DISTRICT FOR ELECTION OF MEMBERS TO THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESEN- TATIVES SHALL HAVE A POPULATION WHICH VARIES BY MORE THAN ONE PERCENT FROM THE AVERAGE POPULATION OF ALL CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS IN THE STATE. SUCH DISTRICTS SHALL be in as compact form as practicable, and shall remain unaltered until the first year of the next decade as above defined[, and]. THE DISTRICTS OF A HOUSE SHALL BE AS COMPACT AS POSSI- BLE, CONSISTENT WITH THE STANDARDS LISTED ABOVE. IN NO CASE SHALL THE AGGREGATE LENGTH OF THE BOUNDARIES OF ALL THE DISTRICTS OF A HOUSE EXCEED BY MORE THAN FIVE PERCENT THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE AGGREGATE LENGTH OF ALL THE DISTRICTS UNDER ANY OTHER PLAN FOR THE SAME HOUSE THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE OTHER STANDARDS CONTAINED IN THIS CONSTITUTION. IN THE CASE OF A LOCAL POLITICAL SUBDIVISION THAT HAS A POPULATION SUFFI- CIENT TO ESTABLISH TWO OR MORE DISTRICTS FOR ANY ONE HOUSE, THE AGGRE- GATE LENGTH OF THE BOUNDARIES OF ALL DISTRICTS FOR THAT HOUSE ENTIRELY WITHIN THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT EXCEED BY MORE THAN FIVE PERCENT THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE AGGREGATE LENGTH OF THE DISTRICTS WITHIN THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISION UNDER ANY OTHER PLAN THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE OTHER STANDARDS CONTAINED IN THIS CONSTITUTION. SUCH DISTRICTS shall at all times consist of contiguous territory, and no county shall be divided in the formation of a senate district except to make two or more senate districts wholly in such county. No town, except a town having more than a full ratio of apportionment, and no block in a city inclosed by streets or public ways, shall be divided in the formation of senate districts; nor shall any district contain a greater excess in population over an adjoining district in the same county, than the population of a town or block therein adjoining such district. Counties, towns or blocks which, from their location, may be included in either of two districts, shall be so placed as to make said districts most nearly equal in number of inhabitants, excluding aliens. S. 2892 3 No county shall have four or more senators unless it shall have a full ratio for each senator. No county shall have more than one-third of all the senators; and no two counties or the territory thereof as now organ- ized, which are adjoining counties, or which are separated only by public waters, shall have more than one-half of all the senators. The ratio for apportioning senators shall always be obtained by divid- ing the number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, by fifty, and the senate shall always be composed of fifty members, except that if any county having three or more senators at the time of any apportionment shall be entitled on such ratio to an additional senator or senators, such additional senator or senators shall be given to such county in addition to the fifty senators, and the whole number of senators shall be increased to that extent. SUCH DISTRICTS SHALL NOT BE DRAWN FOR THE PURPOSE OF FAVORING ANY POLITICAL PARTY, INCUMBENT LEGISLATOR OR OTHER PERSON OR GROUP. IN PREPARING A PLAN, THE COMMISSION SHALL NOT CONSIDER OR TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE ADDRESS OF INDIVIDUAL PERSONS, INCLUDING INCUMBENT LEGISLATORS. THE COMMISSION SHALL NOT USE THE POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS OF REGISTERED VOTERS, PREVIOUS ELECTION RESULTS, ADDRESSES OF INCUMBENT LEGISLATORS, ADDRESSES OF INDIVIDUAL PERSONS AND DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION OTHER THAN POPULATION HEAD COUNTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF FAVORING ANY POLITICAL PARTY, INCUMBENT LEGISLATOR OR OTHER PERSON OR GROUP. SUCH DISTRICTS SHALL NOT BE DRAWN FOR THE PURPOSE OF DILUTING THE VOTING STRENGTH OF ANY LANGUAGE OR RACIAL MINORITY GROUP. The senate districts, including the present ones, as existing imme- diately before the enactment of a law readjusting or altering the senate districts, shall continue to be the senate districts of the state until the expirations of the terms of the senators then in office, except for the purpose of an election of senators for full terms beginning at such expirations, and for the formation of assembly districts. S 5. The members of the assembly shall be chosen by single districts and shall be apportioned by the [legislature] APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION at each regular session at which the senate districts are readjusted or altered, and by the same law, among the several counties of the state, as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabit- ants, excluding aliens. Every county heretofore established and sepa- rately organized, except the county of Hamilton, shall always be enti- tled to one member of assembly, and no county shall hereafter be erected unless its population shall entitle it to a member. The county of Hamil- ton shall elect with the county of Fulton, until the population of the county of Hamilton shall, according to the ratio, entitle it to a member. But the legislature may abolish the said county of Hamilton and annex the territory thereof to some other county or counties. The quotient obtained by dividing the whole number of inhabitants of the state, excluding aliens, by the number of members of assembly, shall be the ratio for apportionment, which shall be made as follows: One member of assembly shall be apportioned to every county, including Fulton and Hamilton as one county, containing less than the ratio and one-half over. Two members shall be apportioned to every other county. The remaining members of assembly shall be apportioned to the counties having more than two ratios according to the number of inhabitants, excluding aliens. Members apportioned on remainders shall be apportioned to the counties having the highest remainders in the order thereof respectively. No county shall have more members of assembly than a coun- ty having a greater number of inhabitants, excluding aliens. S. 2892 4 The assembly districts, including the present ones, as existing imme- diately before the enactment of a law making an apportionment of members of assembly among the counties, shall continue to be the assembly districts of the state until the expiration of the terms of members then in office, except for the purpose of an election of members of assembly for full terms beginning at such expirations. In any county entitled to more than one member, the board of supervi- sors, and in any city embracing an entire county and having no board of supervisors, the common council, or if there be none, the body exercis- ing the powers of a common council, shall assemble at such times as the [legislature] APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION making an apportionment shall prescribe[, and]. THE APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION SHALL divide such counties into assembly districts as nearly equal in number of inhabitants, excluding aliens, as may be, of convenient and contiguous territory in as compact form as practicable, AS REQUIRED UNDER THE PROVISIONS FOR SENATE APPORTIONMENT, each of which shall be wholly within a senate district formed under the same apportionment, equal to the number of members of assembly to which such county shall be entitled, and shall cause to be filed in the office of the secretary of state and of the clerk of such county, a description of such districts, specifying the number of each district and of the inhabitants thereof, excluding aliens, according to the census or enumeration used as the population basis for the formation of such districts; and such apportionment and districts shall remain unaltered until after the next reapportionment of members of assembly, except that the board of supervisors of any county containing a town having more than a ratio of apportionment and one-half over may alter the assembly districts in a senate district containing such town at any time on or before March first, nineteen hundred forty-six. In counties having more than one senate district, the same number of assembly districts shall be put in each senate district, unless the assembly districts cannot be evenly divided among the senate districts of any county, in which case one more assembly district shall be put in the senate district in such county having the largest, or one less assembly district shall be put in the senate district in such county having the smallest number of inhab- itants, excluding aliens, as the case may require. No town, except a town having more than a ratio of apportionment and one-half over, and no block in a city inclosed by streets or public ways, shall be divided in the formation of assembly districts, nor shall any districts contain a greater excess in population over an adjoining district in the same senate district, than the population of a town or block therein adjoin- ing such assembly district. Towns or blocks which, from their location may be included in either of two districts, shall be so placed as to make said districts most nearly equal in number of inhabitants, exclud- ing aliens. Nothing in this section shall prevent the division, at any time, of counties and towns and the erection of new towns by the legis- lature. [An apportionment by the legislature, or other body, shall be subject to review by the supreme court, at the suit of any citizen, under such reasonable regulations as the legislature may prescribe; and any court before which a cause may be pending involving an apportionment, shall give precedence thereto over all other causes and proceedings, and if said court be not in session it shall convene promptly for the disposi- tion of the same.] THE STATE SUPREME COURT SHALL HAVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OVER ANY APPORTIONMENT MATTER. THE COURT SHALL HAVE JURISDICTION TO COMPEL THE S. 2892 5 COMMISSION OR ANY PERSON TO PERFORM DUTIES REQUIRED OF THE COMMISSION OR THAT PERSON BY THIS SECTION OR ANY LAW ENACTED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION UPON PETITION OF ANY REGISTERED VOTER. ANY REGISTERED VOTER MAY FILE A PETITION WITH THE COURT CHALLENGING A PLAN OF THE COMMISSION WITHIN FORTY-FIVE DAYS OF THE ADOPTION OF A PLAN. THE COURT MAY CONSOLIDATE ANY OR ALL PETITIONS AND SHALL GIVE ALL PETITIONS REGARDING APPORTIONMENT PRECEDENCE OVER ALL OTHER MATTERS. THE COURT SHALL RENDER ITS DECISION WITHIN SIXTY DAYS AFTER A PETITION IS FILED. IF THE COURT FINDS THAT THE PLAN IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF ANY FEDERAL OR STATE CONSTITUTIONAL OR STATUTORY PROVISION, THE COURT SHALL DECLARE THE PLAN INVALID IN WHOLE OR IN PART AND SHALL ORDER THE COMMISSION TO PREPARE A NEW PLAN WITHIN SIXTY DAYS. A REAPPORTIONMENT PLAN SHALL BE IN FORCE UNTIL THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF A PLAN BASED UPON THE FOLLOWING FEDERAL CENSUS TAKEN IN A YEAR ENDING IN ZERO UNLESS MODIFIED PURSUANT TO COURT ORDER. A REAPPORTIONMENT PLAN SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT, APPROVAL OR REPEAL BY INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM OR ACT OF THE LEGISLATURE. THE LEGISLATURE MAY DEFINE BY LAW ANY OF THE STANDARDS ENUMERATED IN THIS SECTION AND MAY ESTABLISH BY LAW ADDITIONAL STANDARDS, NOT IN CONFLICT WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OR THIS CONSTITU- TION, DESIGNED TO GUARANTEE FAIR AND EFFECTIVE REPRESENTATION FOR ALL CITIZENS. NO LAW ENACTED UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL MODIFY A PLAN IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THAT LAW. S 5-B. IN EACH YEAR ENDING IN ZERO AND AT ANY OTHER TIME OF COURT ORDERED APPORTIONMENT, AN APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION SHALL BE ESTABLISHED TO PREPARE A REAPPORTIONMENT PLAN FOR STATE LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSION- AL DISTRICTS. THE COMMISSION SHALL CONSIST OF FIVE MEMBERS, NONE OF WHOM MAY BE PAST OR CURRENT PUBLIC OFFICIALS, NOR PAST OR CURRENT OFFICE HOLDERS IN ANY POLITICAL PARTY. THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE AND THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY SHALL EACH SELECT ONE MEMBER. THE FOUR MEMBERS SO SELECTED SHALL SELECT, BY A VOTE OF AT LEAST THREE MEMBERS, A FIFTH MEMBER WHO SHALL SERVE AS CHAIR. THE LEGISLATURE SHALL ESTABLISH BY LAW QUALIFICATIONS OF COMMISSIONERS AND PROCEDURES FOR THEIR SELECTION AND THE FILING OF VACANCIES. THE LEGISLATURE SHALL ESTABLISH BY LAW THE DUTIES AND POWERS OF THE COMMISSION AND SHALL APPROPRIATE FUNDS TO ENABLE THE COMMISSION TO CARRY OUT ITS DUTIES. S 2. Resolved (if the Assembly concur), That the foregoing amendments be referred to the first regular legislative session convening after the next succeeding general election of members of the assembly, and, in conformity with section 1 of article 19 of the constitution, be published for 3 months previous to the time of such election.

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