Bill Text: TX HJR59 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Proposing a constitutional amendment establishing the Texas Redistricting Commission to redistrict the Texas Legislature and Texas congressional districts and revising procedures for redistricting.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-04-04 - Left pending in committee [HJR59 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-HJR59-Introduced.html
  86R4780 JRJ-D
 
  By: Anchia H.J.R. No. 59
 
 
 
A JOINT RESOLUTION
  proposing a constitutional amendment establishing the Texas
  Redistricting Commission to redistrict the Texas Legislature and
  Texas congressional districts and revising procedures for
  redistricting.
         BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Article III, Texas Constitution, is amended by
  adding Section 28a to read as follows:
         Sec. 28a.  (a) The Texas Redistricting Commission exercises
  the legislative authority of this state to adopt redistricting
  plans for the election of the Texas House of Representatives, the
  Texas Senate, and the members of the United States House of
  Representatives elected from this state. Districts for those
  legislative bodies may not be established or changed except as
  provided by this section.
         (b)  The commission consists of seven members selected as
  follows:
               (1)  one member appointed by the member of the Texas
  Senate with the most seniority, as defined by senate rules;
               (2)  one member appointed by the member of the Texas
  Senate with the most seniority, as defined by senate rules, who is
  of a different political party than the member described by
  Subdivision (1) of this subsection;
               (3)  one member appointed by the member of the Texas
  House of Representatives with the most seniority, as defined by
  house rules;
               (4)  one member appointed by the member of the Texas
  House of Representatives with the most seniority, as defined by
  house rules, who is of a different political party than the member
  described by Subdivision (3) of this subsection;
               (5)  one member appointed by an affirmative vote of not
  fewer than three of the members of the commission selected under
  Subdivisions (1) through (4) of this subsection; and
               (6)  two members appointed by the member appointed
  under Subdivision (5) of this subsection who must be retired
  federal judges appointed to the federal bench by presidents of
  different political parties.
         (c)  The members of the commission shall appoint one of the
  members to serve as presiding officer by an affirmative vote of a
  majority of the members of the commission.
         (d)  Each member of the commission must be a resident of this
  state and have relevant skills and abilities, including analytical
  skills, the capacity for impartiality, and an appreciation for the
  diverse demographics and geography of the state.  A person is not
  eligible to serve on the commission if the person:
               (1)  holds an elective or appointive public office,
  other than the office of retired federal judge if the member is
  appointed under Subsection (b)(6) of this section or an office on
  the governing body of a school district;
               (2)  holds an office in a political party;
               (3)  is employed by:
                     (A)  an elected or appointed public official;
                     (B)  a candidate for the legislature or the United
  States Congress; or
                     (C)  an entity whose principal purpose is to
  support or oppose a candidate described by Paragraph (B) of this
  subdivision;
               (4)  has served in a position described by Subdivision
  (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection within the three years preceding
  the date the person is appointed to the commission;
               (5)  is required by law to register with the Texas
  Ethics Commission on account of the person's communications with
  state officers to influence legislation or administrative action,
  or was required to register in that capacity in the three years
  preceding the date the person was appointed to the commission; or
               (6)  is related to an elected or appointed public
  official within the second degree by consanguinity, as determined
  under general law governing consanguinity.
         (e)  The full term of a member of the commission is a 10-year
  term that begins on February 1 of the year ending in 1 in which the
  initial appointment to the position is required to be made and
  expires on January 31 of the next year ending in 1.  A vacancy on the
  commission is filled in the same manner as provided by this section
  for the original appointment.
         (f)  A member of the commission may not be a candidate in an
  election for the Texas Senate or Texas House of Representatives
  before the third anniversary of the date the commission adopts a
  redistricting plan or modification of a plan for that body during
  the person's service on the commission.
         (g)  A member of the Texas House of Representatives, the
  Texas Senate, or the United States House of Representatives may not
  have contact, directly or indirectly, with a redistricting
  commission member or with redistricting commission staff, with
  respect to redistricting, except by testimony in a public hearing.  
  Redistricting commission members may not engage in any discussions,
  directly or indirectly, regarding redistricting or the work of the
  redistricting commission with members of the Texas House of
  Representatives, the Texas Senate, or the United States House of
  Representatives, except during a public hearing or by written
  communication given to the entire commission.  If a redistricting
  commission member engages in a prohibited discussion or violates
  state law regarding public meetings, the commission may, by
  majority vote, remove the member from the commission. 
         (h)  A redistricting plan or modification of a redistricting
  plan is adopted by a vote of not less than five members of the
  commission.
         (i)  The members of the commission appointed under
  Subsections (b)(1) through (4) of this section shall be appointed
  not earlier than January 25 or later than January 31 of each year
  ending in 1. The member appointed under Subsection (b)(5) of this
  section shall be appointed not later than the 15th day after the
  commission convenes under Subsection (k) of this section. The
  members appointed under Subsection (b)(6) of this section shall be
  appointed not later than the 15th day after the date of an
  appointment under Subsection (b)(5) of this section.
         (j)  As soon as practicable after the commission convenes,
  all members of the commission must attend training provided by a
  legislative agency that has provided redistricting services to the
  legislature.  The training must include:
               (1)  information on the demographics and geography of
  the state;
               (2)  the responsibilities of the commission;
               (3)  information on the redistricting process; and
               (4)  redistricting software training.
         (k)  The commission shall convene on the first business day
  after January 31 of each year ending in 1 and shall adopt a
  redistricting plan for the Texas Senate, the Texas House of
  Representatives, and the members of the United States House of
  Representatives elected from this state not later than July 1 of
  that year, unless the federal decennial census is delivered to the
  appropriate officials of this state after May 1 of that year, in
  which event the commission shall adopt those redistricting plans
  not later than the 90th day after the date the census is delivered.
         (l)  The commission shall reconvene to modify a
  redistricting plan if the plan becomes unenforceable by order of a
  court or by action of any other appropriate authority. In modifying
  a redistricting plan, the commission must comply with all
  applicable standards imposed by this section, other provisions of
  this constitution, and laws enacted under this section but is not
  limited to modifications necessary to correct legal deficiencies.
         (m)  In a redistricting plan or modification of a plan
  adopted under this section, the commission shall consider the
  following criteria, giving priority to each criterion in the order
  listed:
               (1)  districts must be drawn in accordance with the
  federal constitution and all applicable federal laws, including the
  federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Section 10101 et seq.);
               (2)  in addition to the requirements of federal law,
  districts must be drawn in a manner that does not discriminate on
  the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group
  by ensuring the voting strength of racial, ethnic, and language
  minorities in the districts is not diluted in a manner that deprives
  minority voters of an equal opportunity to elect a candidate of
  their choice;
               (3)  each district must be composed of contiguous
  territory, and for purposes of this subdivision territory that is
  adjoining only at a point is not considered contiguous;
               (4)  to the extent reasonable, district boundaries may
  not divide a community of interest other than a community based on a
  relationship with a political party or candidate for public office;
               (5)  to the extent reasonable, district boundaries must
  coincide with the boundaries of political subdivisions of the state
  and divide the smallest number of counties, municipalities, and
  school districts possible;
               (6)  each congressional district must contain a
  population as nearly equal as possible to the population of any
  other district in the plan; and
               (7)  in a redistricting plan for the Texas Senate or
  Texas House of Representatives the overall range of population
  deviation from the district with the largest population to the
  district with the smallest population may not exceed 2.5 percent.
         (n)  If a political subdivision must be divided, the
  commission shall give preference to dividing a more populous
  political subdivision before a less populous one.  This subsection
  does not apply to a boundary drawn along a county line that divides
  a municipality.
         (o)  The commission may not draw a redistricting plan
  purposely to favor or discriminate against a political party or any
  other group.
         (p)  The commission shall provide a process by which the
  public may comment on a proposed redistricting plan or proposed
  modification of a plan.  The commission shall consider those
  comments in the adoption or modification of a redistricting plan.
         (q)  For a reasonable period before the commission considers
  a redistricting plan, including a modification of a redistricting
  plan, the commission shall make available to the public:
               (1)  a report that identifies for each district in the
  plan:
                     (A)  boundaries;
                     (B)  population;
                     (C)  racial and ethnic composition;
                     (D)  compactness measure;
                     (E)  divided governmental units; and
                     (F)  political performance indexes; and
               (2)  the total number of:
                     (A)  governmental units of each type that are
  divided;
                     (B)  politically balanced districts; and
                     (C)  districts anticipated to lean toward each
  political party.
         (r)  The legislature shall enact laws consistent with this
  section to implement this section. The laws may include additional
  qualifications for commission members and additional standards
  applicable to redistricting plans.
         (s)  The legislature shall appropriate money or otherwise
  provide the commission with sufficient facilities and personnel to
  enable the commission to carry out its duties.
         (t)  This section takes effect January 1, 2021. On that
  date, the Legislative Redistricting Board is abolished and Section
  28 of this article is repealed. The Texas Redistricting Commission
  shall convene for the first time on the first business day after
  January 31, 2021. This subsection expires January 1, 2022.
         SECTION 2.  Section 7a, Article V, Texas Constitution, is
  amended by amending Subsections (e) and (i) and adding Subsection
  (j) to read as follows:
         (e)  Unless the legislature enacts a statewide
  reapportionment of the judicial districts following each federal
  decennial census, the board shall convene not later than the first
  Monday of June of the third year following the year in which the
  federal decennial census is taken to make a statewide
  reapportionment of the districts. The board shall complete its
  work on the reapportionment and file its order with the secretary of
  state not later than August 31 of the same year. If the Judicial
  Districts Board fails to make a statewide apportionment by that
  date, the Texas [Legislative] Redistricting Commission [Board]
  established by Article III, Section 28a [28], of this constitution
  shall convene on September 1 of the same year to make a statewide
  reapportionment of the judicial districts not later than the 90th
  [150th] day after the final day for the Judicial Districts Board to
  make the reapportionment.
         (i)  The legislature, the Judicial Districts Board, or the
  Texas [Legislative] Redistricting Commission [Board] may not
  redistrict the judicial districts to provide for any judicial
  district smaller in size than an entire county except as provided by
  this section. Judicial districts smaller in size than the entire
  county may be created subsequent to a general election where a
  majority of the persons voting on the proposition adopt the
  proposition "to allow the division of ____________ County into
  judicial districts composed of parts of ____________ County." No
  redistricting plan may be proposed or adopted by the legislature,
  the Judicial Districts Board, or the Texas [Legislative]
  Redistricting Commission [Board] in anticipation of a future action
  by the voters of any county.
         (j)  Until January 1, 2021, a reference in this section to
  the Texas Redistricting Commission means the Legislative
  Redistricting Board established under Article III, Section 28, of
  this constitution. This subsection expires January 1, 2021.
         SECTION 3.  This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
  submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 5, 2019.  
  The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the
  following proposition:  "The constitutional amendment establishing
  the Texas Redistricting Commission to redistrict the Texas
  Legislature and Texas congressional districts and revising
  procedures for redistricting."
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