Senator Eleanor Kinnaird (D-Orange) is the lone sponsor of this week’s Bad Bill of the Week – SB 155, The Hamilton C. Horton Jr. Independent Redistricting Commission. Senator Kinnaird sponsored a similar bill last year with the same name.
While Civitas remembers the late Senator Horton fondly, we are skeptical of all “non-partisan” or “independent” redistricting committees. We believe that redistricting is an inherently partisan process and should be transparently implemented by the elected officials charged with the responsibility by our State’s Constitution.
SB 155 (as do all “independent” redistricting bills) appears to pass off our elected officials redistricting responsibilities to appointees but, ultimately, the appointees are appointed by the politicians we elect to be in charge of the process. No amount of restrictions placed on who can and who cannot be appointed to the commission, and no matter how convoluted the appointment process, we know that in the end partisans will make the final decisions on the maps. We also know the system can be scammed. All we need to do is look to Arizona and California and their “independent” redistricting committees to see that these committees aren’t what their proponents claim they are, but ultimately partisan cover for politicians.
Commissions like the ones Senator Kinnaird proposes give cover to politicians not wanting to take the redistricting heat. There is little evidence that non-partisan and independent redistricting committees eliminate partisanship or political gerrymandering. It is impossible to take politics out of the redistricting process, instead we should insist on a transparent redistricting process. This will allow voters to determine whether the elected officials in charge followed all the rules and laws pertaining to the process.
Because it shifts responsibility and accountability away from where it belongs, while not living up to the promise of being “independent,” SB 155 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.