Update: Constitutional Amendment for Independent Redistricting Commission Heard in House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee
Santa Fe, NM – The Constitutional Amendment creating an Independent Redistricting Commission, House Joint Resolution 9 (HJR9), had its first hearing in the House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs committee (HGEIA). The legislation, sponsored by Representative Natalie Figueroa (D-Bernalillo) and Representative Daymon Ely (D- Bernalillo & Sandoval), will return to the committee next week for a vote.
House Joint Resolution 9 proposes to amend Article 20 of the New Mexico Constitution to establish a constitutionally required independent redistricting commission. The legislation establishes a seven-member redistricting commission of which no more than three may have the same party affiliation. The proposed language prohibits individuals who have been elected officials, involved with a campaign, a candidate, or a paid lobbyist from qualifying for the Commission for a period of time. The legislation gives the IRC authority to file the maps without legislative or executive approval.
Presently, fifteen states have an independent redistricting commission and six (including New Mexico) have a committee that serves in an advisory capacity. Other states rely upon the legislature to facilitate the process and/or serve as a backup to the committee process.
“The people of New Mexico should be allowed to decide the best way forward. We aspire to future redistrictings, which shall never be so bruising as the past, nor so expensive for the legislature and for the State,” said Kathleen Burke, Project Coordinator for Fair Districts for New Mexico.
If approved, HJR9 will give voters the opportunity to approve a true independent redistricting commission as a part of the 2022 general election ballot.
“Fair Districts for New Mexico was pleased that the HGEIA committee was so engaged in the discussion about HJR9. The committee members provided valuable suggestions on how HJR9 could be improved,” said Dick Mason, Chair of the Action Committee of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. “The lead sponsor, Representative Natalie Figueroa, is working on incorporating many of those suggestions into a committee substitute that will presented at a future HGEIA committee meeting.”
Aspects of the legislation build upon the aspects of the successful Citizen Redistricting Committee (CRC) structure. The resolution’s sponsor Representative Natalie Figueroa testified “this [HJR9] will protect us from losing a process we are trying to improve at the whim of a future administration. We need it protected and permanent as a part of our constitution.”
In order to make it onto the 2022 general election balloon HJR9 would need approval on a two-thirds margin from the House of Representatives and Senate.
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