HB203 (2017) Detail

Establishing an independent redistricting commission.


HB 203-FN-A - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2017 SESSION

17-0059

03/09

 

HOUSE BILL 203-FN-A

 

AN ACT establishing an independent redistricting commission.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Cote, Hills. 31; Rep. Chandley, Hills. 22; Rep. Ebel, Merr. 5; Rep. Cilley, Straf. 4; Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. Myler, Merr. 10

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes an independent redistricting commission.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

17-0059

03/09

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seventeen

 

AN ACT establishing an independent redistricting commission.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Chapter; Independent Redistricting Commission.  Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 662-A the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 662-B

INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

662-B:1  Independent Redistricting Commission.

I.  There is hereby established an independent redistricting commission which shall be charged with establishing all election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in New Hampshire.  This commission is established so that henceforth elections shall reflect to the greatest extent possible the wishes of the voters of New Hampshire by eliminating partisan distortions of electoral districts.

II.  The commission shall consist of 7 members.  The president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the minority leaders of the house of representatives and senate shall each appoint one member.  The initial 4 members shall be appointed-by notification to the secretary of state no later than 60 days after passage.  Within 60 days of the appointment of the initial 4 members they shall meet at a time and place designated by the secretary of state in order to select 3 additional members.  Each of these 3 additional members shall require the votes of at least 3 of the 4 initial members.  Should the 4 members fail to nominate additional members with the requisite 3 votes, the positions not filled shall be appointed by the supreme court.  Once the initial 4 members have been selected by the legislative leaders, no person shall be selected if such selection results in more than 2 members of the commission having their voting domicile in any one county.

III.  Once the commission has been fully appointed, the members shall meet at a time and place designated by the secretary of state for the selection of a chairperson, who shall be a member and who shall serve until a majority of the commission votes otherwise.

IV.  No member of the commission shall make any political donations to nor endorsements of candidates, political committees, or political parties while a member.

V.  Each member of the commission shall receive per diem payments in the same amounts as allowable for members of the adult parole board, however, the payments shall not be reduced during the term of any member of the commission for such member.

662-B:2  Duties of Commission.

I.  The commission shall be authorized in the first instance to conduct the redistricting of the state required by the state constitution in the year after the results of the decennial federal census.  The commission shall establish a plan with electoral districts for all state and federal offices in New Hampshire.  In so doing the commission shall be guided by the following precepts:

(a)  The commission may not consider or seek to advance in any way the interests of any political party.  Any individual who attempts in an ex parte communication to solicit the commission to do so shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.  Any member or staff of the commission who is so solicited in an ex parte communication to act to advance the interests of a political party shall report such solicitation to the attorney general within 48 hours.  Failure to do so shall constitute a misdemeanor.  Nothing in this section shall operate to bar political parties or their officers or members from submitting suggestions for redistricting and testimony thereon as long as such submissions are made to the commission as a whole.

(b)  The commission shall attempt to make the districts as compact as possible while still maintaining districts that reflect common interests and historical connections.  The commission shall endeavor to make districts representative of the views of the underlying populations.

(c)  As many districts as possible shall be wholly contained within a single town or city and each such district shall to the extent possible be single member districts.

II.  The commission may hire such staff as is necessary to perform its functions and may if it so chooses share staff with either the attorney general's office or the office of the secretary of state.

III.  The commission shall solicit redistricting plans and suggestions from the people of New Hampshire and shall make available public redistricting software.  The commission shall maintain an Internet site on which all such plans shall be made available to the public.  All communications with the commission from persons not staff, employees, members, or legal counsel of the commission shall be subject to disclosure to any member of the public under the same terms as materials discoverable under the right-to-know law.

IV.  The commission shall hold such public hearings as it deems advisable prior to developing redistricting plans, including at least one such hearing in each executive council district.

662-B:3  Funding.

I.  All entities that release paid political communications costing in the aggregate more than $40,000 related to persons or issues involved in New Hampshire elections in the 6-month period preceding a state election that do not voluntarily provide the secretary of state with full disclosure of all such expenditures and the donations that supported them shall be subject to a fee of 20 percent of the cost of said communications.  Persons or entities that voluntarily provide such information regarding such donations and expenditures shall not be subject to such fees.  All information received by the secretary of state from entities subject to this section shall be made available to the public on searchable databases accessible on the Internet.

II.  Such fees shall be used to pay for the reasonable costs of the commission including staff, rent, consultants, software, and supplies.

III.  There is established within the office of the attorney general the position of election integrity attorney who shall advise the commission in addition to performing other regulatory and legal functions relating to the enforcement on New Hampshire election laws.  This attorney shall be paid in the first instance from the fees received pursuant to paragraph I.

IV.  If the fees generated are insufficient to provide for the costs of the commission, the commission shall provide to the secretary of state a request for funding of the shortfall.  The secretary of state shall provide such funding as is requested by the commission.

662-B:4  Timetable for Preparation of Plan.

I.  The commission shall forward the plan to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate before April 1 of each year ending in one.  It is the intent of this chapter that the general court shall vote on the plan in either the house of representatives or the senate expeditiously, but not less than 7 days after the plan is received and made available to the members of the general court, under a procedure or rule permitting no amendments except those of a purely corrective nature.  It is further the intent of this chapter that if the bill is approved by the first house in which it is considered, it shall expeditiously be brought to a vote in the second house under a similar procedure or rule.

II.  If the plan fails to be approved by a constitutional majority in either the house of representatives or the senate, the clerk of the house of representatives or the senate, as the case may be, shall at once transmit to the commission reasons why the plan was not approved.  The commission shall then prepare a second plan in accordance with RSA 662-B:2, and taking into account the reasons cited by the house of representatives or senate for its failure to approve the plan insofar as it is possible to do so within the requirements of RSA 662-B:2.  The second plan shall be delivered to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate not later than May 1 of the year ending in one, or 21 days after the date of the vote by which the house of representatives or the senate fails to approve the plan submitted under paragraph I, whichever date is later.  It is the intent of this chapter that, if a second plan is necessary, it shall be brought to a vote not less than 7 days after the plan is made available to the members of the general court, in the same manner as prescribed for the plan under paragraph I.

III.  If the second plan submitted by the commission fails to be approved by a constitutional majority in either the house of representatives or the senate, the same procedure as prescribed by paragraph II shall be followed.  If a third plan is required, it shall be delivered to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate not later than June 1 of the year ending in one, or 21 days after the date of the vote by which the house of representatives or the senate fails to approve the second plan submitted under paragraph II, whichever date is later.  It is the intent of this chapter that, if it is necessary to submit a plan under this paragraph, the plan be brought to a vote within the same time period after its delivery to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate as is prescribed for the plan submitted under paragraph II, but shall be subject to amendment in the same manner as other bills.

IV.  If the census data necessary for the redistricting plan is unavailable by February 15 of the year ending in one, the dates set forth in this section shall be extended by a number of days equal to the number of days after February 15 of the year ending in one that the census data becomes available.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

17-0059

12/23/16

 

HB 203-FN-A- FISCAL NOTE

as introduced

 

AN ACT establishing an independent redistricting commission.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Interminable Increase

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill inserts a new chapter after RSA 662-A establishing a seven member independent redistricting commission with authorization to conduct the redistricting of the State required by the New Hampshire and U.S. constitutions one year after the decennial census. This bill also creates the position of election integrity attorney in the Office of Attorney General to advise the commission in addition to other regulatory legal functions relating to enforcing New Hampshire election laws.  The Department of Justice estimates the new attorney position will cost $113,000 each year and that there would also need to be a part-time support staff at a cost of $45,000 a year.  The commission can either hire staff or share staff with the Department of Justice or Secretary of State. Costs of the commission including the attorney (in the first instance), staff rent, consultants, software, and supplies would be paid by revenue generated from entities subject to a fee for releasing paid political communications costing more than $40,000 within six months of a state election that do not voluntarily provide the Secretary of State with full disclosure of all such expenditures and donations. If fee revenue is insufficient to cover expenditures, the Secretary of State would be required to provide funding for the shortfall.

 

The Secretary of State states it is unable to estimate the fiscal impact on revenue and expenditures based on the information provided. The fiscal impact is indeterminable.

 

This bill provides for unspecified misdemeanors in two circumstances and requires the Supreme Court appoint members in specific instances which may have an impact on the New Hampshire judicial system. While the Judicial Branch states the fiscal impact is under $10,000 for appointment of commission members, there is no method to determine how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in this bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures. However, the entities impacted have provided the potential costs associated with these penalties below.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2018

FY 2019

Class B Misdemeanor

$49

$50

Class A Misdemeanor

$71

$72

Appeals

Varies

Varies

It should be noted average case cost estimates for FY 2018 and FY 2019 are based on data that is more than ten years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types.  An unspecified misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor.

 

The Department of Justice assumes it would investigate and prosecute any such offenses as elections enforcement but cannot predict how many investigations or prosecutions would be required or how the commission will staff itself. The fiscal impact is indeterminable.

 

The Legislative Branch states the fiscal impact is indeterminable.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Secretary of State, Judicial Branch, Legislative Branch, and Department of Justice.

 

 

Links

HB203 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 18, 2017 House Hearing
Feb. 1, 2017 House Exec Session
Feb. 15, 2017 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB203 Revision: 954 Date: Jan. 30, 2017, 12:16 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 4, 2017 Introduced 01/04/2017 and referred to Election Law HJ 2 P. 20
Jan. 18, 2017 Public Hearing: 01/18/2017 01:00 PM LOB 308
Feb. 1, 2017 Executive Session: 02/01/2017 11:30 AM LOB 308
Feb. 15, 2017 Majority Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for 02/15/2017 (Vote 11-9; RC) HC 11 P. 19
Minority Committee Report: Ought to Pass
Feb. 15, 2017 Inexpedient to Legislate: MA RC 190-164 02/15/2017 HJ 7 P. 35