HB 121-FN-A - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2021 SESSION

21-0066

11/06

 

HOUSE BILL 121-FN-A

 

AN ACT establishing an independent redistricting commission.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6; Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. Gordon, Graf. 9; Rep. Wolf, Merr. 5; Rep. Bunker, Rock. 18; Rep. Schuett, Merr. 20; Rep. Kenney, Straf. 6

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes an independent redistricting commission.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

21-0066

11/06

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One

 

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 Established.  There is hereby established a New Hampshire independent redistricting commission ("commission"), that shall convene no later than July 1, 2021, and every 10 years thereafter, in order to:

I.  Conduct an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines.

II.  Draw district lines according to the redistricting criteria specified in this chapter.

III.  Conduct its business with integrity and fairness.

662-B:2  Eligibility to Serve on the Commission.  A person shall be eligible for appointment to the commission if the person is eligible to register to vote in New Hampshire and if the person does not currently hold office in the United States House of Representatives, New Hampshire senate, New Hampshire house of representatives, or executive council, or a county commission.  

662-B:3  Appointment of Commissioners.

I.  The secretary of state shall identify the pool of eligible commissioners.  He or she shall, to the extent practicable, notify all eligible persons and invite them to apply.  These efforts may include:

(a)  Advertising the application period and criteria in daily newspapers in the state.

(b)  Advertising the application period and criteria on the home page of state agency websites.

(c)  Requesting media to publicize the commission   s search for eligible members.

(d)  Publicizing the application period and criteria in the New Hampshire house and senate calendars.  

II.(a)  A person who is eligible to serve as a member of the commission may submit an application to the secretary of state no later than February 1 of each year ending in the number one, except the year 2021, during which applications shall be submitted no later than 60 days after the effective date of this section.  Such application shall include the following information:

(1)  Whether the applicant has registered as a lobbyist in the preceding 10 years.

(2)  What elective offices, if any, the applicant has held in New Hampshire in the preceding 10 years.

(3)  If the applicant has voted in a state primary election or presidential primary election in New Hampshire in the preceding 6 years, which political party   s ballots the applicant has taken.

(b)  From all eligible applications received, the senate and house leaders from the majority party in the house shall nominate 10 applicants from the majority party in the house, and the senate and house leaders from the largest minority party in the house shall nominate 10 applicants from the largest minority party in the house.  The senate and house leaders from the majority party in the house shall chose 5 members from the 10 applicants so selected from largest minority party in the house to serve on the commission.  The senate and house leaders from the largest minority party in the house shall chose 5 members from the 10 applicants so selected from the majority party in the house to serve on the commission.

(c)  The 10 commissioners so selected shall together select 5 commissioners from the applicants who are not members of the majority party in the house or the largest minority party in the house.  The 10 commissioners may not initiate communications or reply to communications about the selection process of the remaining 5 commissioners with outside persons attempting to influence commissioners or commission action.  The process of selecting the 5 commission members not affiliated with the majority party in the house or the largest minority party in the house is not subject to the right-to-know law in RSA 91-A.

III.  In the event of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office, a member of the commission may, after being served written notice and given an opportunity for a response, be removed by a vote of 11 members of the commission.  A finding of substantial neglect of duty or gross misconduct in office may result in referral to the New Hampshire attorney general for criminal prosecution.

IV.  Vacancies on the commission shall be filled when they occur by the commission selecting, by a vote of 11 members, a new member from among the original pool of applicants of the same political party as the vacated commissioner seat still willing to serve or by seeking a replacement in the same manner as initial appointments.

V.  The term of office of commission members expires 2 years after the final enactment of the redistricting plan into law.

662-B:4  Commission Meetings.

I.  The commission shall act in public meetings by the affirmative vote of at least 9 members.

II.  All meetings of the commission shall be open to the public.  The commission shall publicly post notice of its meetings on the commission website and other appropriate outlets at least 7 days prior to such meetings.  All records of the commission, including all communications to or from the commission regarding the work of the commission, shall be made available for public inspection.

III.  The commission shall hold at least one public meeting in each county prior to drawing any maps and at least one public meeting in each county after releasing any proposed maps.

IV.  The commission shall create a website that shall provide, at a minimum, a description of the role of the commission in the redistricting process, timely information to the public about the time, place, and purpose of each meeting of the commission, reports, minutes, and such other information that will support an open and transparent process.  

V.  The commission shall provide a meaningful opportunity for all persons to participate in the public meetings.  Meetings shall be held only in spaces that are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.

VI.  Commission meetings shall be adequately advertised and planned so as to encourage attendance and participation across the state.  This includes scheduling meetings outside of regular work hours.

VII.  The commission shall be considered a public body subject to RSA 91-A.  No documents created or received by the commissioners or staff as part of official duties, including emails and text messages, shall be exempt from disclosure for any privilege other than attorney-client privilege.

VIII.  Commissioners and staff may not initiate communications or reply to communications about commission business with outside persons attempting to influence commissioners or commission action outside of public meetings.  To the extent that commissioners and staff receive such communications, the identity of the person or group and the subject of the communication shall be publicly disclosed on the commission website.