SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 7
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2024
Leo Jaramillo and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Natalie Figueroa and John Block and Bill B. O'Neill
A JOINT RESOLUTION
PROPOSING TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF NEW MEXICO TO PROVIDE FOR THE CREATION OF AN INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION TO DEVELOP AND ADOPT REDISTRICTING PLANS AS PROVIDED BY LAW FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS, STATE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS AND THE DISTRICTS OF OTHER DISTRICTED STATE OFFICES.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. It is proposed to amend Article 4, Section 3 of the constitution of New Mexico to read:
"A. Senators shall not be less than twenty-five years of age and representatives not less than twenty-one years of age at the time of their election. If any senator or representative permanently removes [his] the senator's or representative's residence from or maintains no residence in the district from which [he] the senator or representative was elected, then [he] the senator or representative shall be deemed to have resigned and [his] a successor shall be selected as provided in Article 4, Section 4 of this [article] constitution. No person shall be eligible to serve in the legislature who, at the time of qualifying, holds any office of trust or profit with the state, county or national governments, except notaries public and officers of the militia who receive no salary.
B. The senate shall be composed of no more than forty-two members elected from single-member districts.
C. The house of representatives shall be composed of no more than seventy members elected from single-member districts.
[D. Once following publication of the official report of each federal decennial census hereafter conducted, the legislature may by statute reapportion its membership.]"
SECTION 2. It is proposed to amend Article 20 of the constitution of New Mexico by adding a new section to read:
"A. By September 1 of the year of the federal decennial census, a redistricting commission shall be established to develop and adopt plans for the redistricting of congressional districts, state legislative districts and the districts of other districted state offices.
B. The redistricting commission shall consist of nine members, three of whom are members of the largest political party, three of whom are members of the second largest political party and three of whom are not members of either of the two largest political parties. Each commissioner shall be a registered qualified elector of New Mexico who has not changed political party membership within the two years immediately preceding appointment. A commissioner shall not be, nor have been, within the ten years immediately preceding the opening of the selection process, a federal or state elected official, a gubernatorially appointed state agency head, a relative in the first degree of consanguinity of any of the preceding public officials or an officer of a political party. A commissioner shall not have been, within the five years immediately preceding the opening of the selection process, a local elected official, an employee of the United States congress or the New Mexico legislative branch, a candidate for public office, an employee or contractor for a candidate, campaign committee or political committee or a registered paid lobbyist.
C. Commissioners shall be selected through the following process:
(1) the secretary of state shall:
(a) make applications for commissioner available to the general public as early as January 1 and no later than March 1 of the year of the federal decennial census. The secretary of state shall circulate the applications in a manner that invites wide public participation from different regions of the state. The secretary of state shall also mail applications for commissioner to a minimum of four-tenths percent of the number of registered New Mexico voters, selected at random from across the state and proportional to party membership;
(b) require applicants to provide a completed application no later than June 1 of the year of the federal decennial census;
(c) require applicants to attest that the information provided in their application is accurate and that they meet all the qualifications set forth in Subsection B of this section; and
(d) require applicants to attest that, if selected, they commit to conducting the redistricting process in an honest, independent and impartial fashion;
(2) the secretary of state shall accept applications for commissioner until June 1 of the year of the federal decennial census;
(3) by July 1 of the year of the federal decennial census, from all the applications submitted, the secretary of state shall:
(a) eliminate incomplete applications and applications that, based on the information in the application, indicate the applicant does not meet the qualifications set forth in Subsection B of this section;
(b) using a nongovernmental entity with expertise in statistical methodology, publicly, and with immediate public observation, randomly select one hundred twenty applicants from all remaining applications using accepted statistical weighting methods to ensure that the selection pool includes forty applicants for each of the two largest political parties and forty applicants for those voters not affiliated with either of the two largest political parties, and that, as closely as possible, mirrors the geographic and demographic makeup of the state; and
(c) submit the randomly selected applications to the president pro tempore of the senate, the minority floor leader of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives and the minority floor leader of the house of representatives;
(4) by July 21 of the year of the federal decennial census, the four legislative leaders may each strike up to three applicants from the selection pool, for a maximum of twelve total strikes;
(5) by August 1 of the year of the federal decennial census, the secretary of state shall, using the nongovernmental entity with expertise in statistical methodology, publicly, and with immediate public observation, randomly draw the names of six commissioners, two each from the two largest parties and two commissioners not affiliated with either of the two largest political parties; and
(6) by August 15 of the year of the federal decennial census, the commissioners selected pursuant to Paragraph (5) of this subsection shall select by majority vote the remaining three members, ensuring the political party balance required in Subsection B of this section, and to the extent practicable, ensure that the entire commission reflects the gender, geographic, racial and ethnic population of the state. If the commissioners are unable to reach a decision for any of the three positions, the secretary of state shall fill that position using random selection, statistically weighted for geographic and demographic diversity, from the remaining pool of applicants for that political party group.
D. All appointees shall, before entering upon their duties, take and subscribe to the oath of office provided for by this constitution.
E. The redistricting commission shall elect a chair from among its members.
F. A vacancy on the redistricting commission shall be filled by the secretary of state with an applicant from the same political party group, selected randomly from the final pool of applicants. A commissioner shall be deemed to have resigned from the redistricting commission and a vacancy created if, after the day of appointment:
(1) the commissioner changes party membership in such a way as to cause one political party to have more than three members on the redistricting commission; or
(2) the commissioner no longer meets the qualifications set forth in Subsection B of this section.
G. A commissioner may be removed by the supreme court for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office. The supreme court has exclusive original jurisdiction over proceedings to remove commissioners. A proceeding for the removal of a commissioner shall be commenced by the attorney general upon the request of the redistricting commission.
H. The redistricting commission shall develop and adopt district plans for congressional districts, state legislative districts and other districted state offices following each federal decennial census by majority vote, including at least one vote from each of the three political party groups as set forth in Paragraph (5) of Subsection C of this section. The redistricting commission shall adopt district plans in accordance with the following provisions:
(1) congressional districts shall be as equal in population as practicable;
(2) legislative districts and other state office districts shall be substantially equal in population;
(3) the commission shall not consider district plans for the legislature and other state offices that have a total population deviation of plus or minus five percent, except as necessary to comply with federal law;
(4) the commission shall use the most recent federal decennial census data generated by the United States census bureau and may use other reliable sources of demographic data as determined by majority vote of the commission;
(5) district plans shall comport with the provisions of federal law and shall not dilute a protected minority's voting strength. Race may be considered in developing district plans but shall not be the predominant consideration, and traditional race-neutral redistricting principles shall not be subordinated to racial considerations;
(6) district plans shall use only single-member districts and shall not split precincts;
(7) districts shall be drawn consistent with traditional redistricting principles;
(8) districts shall be composed of contiguous precincts and shall be reasonably compact;
(9) to the extent feasible, districts shall be drawn in an attempt to preserve communities of interest and shall take into consideration political and geographic boundaries, including the boundaries of Indian nations, tribes and pueblos and their political subdivisions; and
(10) to the extent feasible, the commission may seek to preserve the core of existing districts.
I. The redistricting commission may incorporate suggested changes to its proposed district plans in accordance with public comments and testimonies it receives but shall not subordinate the requirements of Paragraphs (1) through (10) of Subsection H of this section in doing so.
J. Party membership and voting history data shall be excluded from the development phase of map drawing but may be used to assess and revise maps for compliance with federal law and the redistricting criteria set forth in Subsection H of this section prior to entering the adoption phase.
K. When proposing or adopting district plans, the redistricting commission shall not consider the voting address of incumbents.
L. After release of the necessary federal decennial census data to the state, the redistricting commission shall hold public hearings throughout the state to develop proposed district plans and subsequently to approve district plans. The redistricting commission shall make any adjustments to the proposed plans that it deems necessary to meet the redistricting criteria and establish the final district boundaries.
M. The redistricting commission shall file with the secretary of state the redistricting commission's approved plans for senate, house of representatives and congressional districts and other districted state offices within six months of the release of redistricting data by the United States census bureau.
N. Plans developed and approved by the redistricting commission shall determine the districts for use in the succeeding primary and general elections for the respective body.
O. The legislature shall provide adequate resources for the operation of the redistricting commission in performing its duties.
P. The redistricting commission shall have procurement and contracting authority and may hire staff, consultants and legal counsel as necessary to carry out its duties. The redistricting commission shall have standing in legal actions challenging the redistricting plans or process, or the adequacy of resources provided for the operation of the redistricting commission. The redistricting commission shall have sole authority to determine whether the attorney general or counsel hired or selected by the redistricting commission shall represent the state in the legal defense of a redistricting plan.
Q. Commissioners are eligible for per diem and mileage at the federal general services administration maximum federal per diem rate for the city of Santa Fe and the federal general services administration standard mileage rate for travel on redistricting commission business and shall receive no other compensation for service on the redistricting commission.
R. Commissioners shall disclose communication with outside persons or organizations attempting to influence the map-drawing process outside of public meetings and public comment periods. Failure to disclose the communications shall constitute substantial neglect of duty.
S. Each commissioner shall serve until the commissioner's successor is appointed and qualified. The redistricting commission shall not meet nor incur expenses after the redistricting process is completed, except:
(1) when litigation related to a plan is pending;
(2) to revise districts if required by a court decision; or
(3) to maintain and provide public access to records of its proceedings.
T. The redistricting commission shall develop and adopt rules for each scope of its authority at the beginning of each redistricting process."
SECTION 3. The amendment proposed by this resolution shall be submitted to the people for their approval or rejection at the next general election or at any special election prior to that date that may be called for that purpose.
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