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Oct 11 / Jonathan

California Proposition 11: Yes, but…

Proposition 11: Redistricting. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Creates 14-member redistricting commission responsible for drawing new district lines for State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts. Requires State Auditor to randomly select commission members from voter applicant pool to create a commission with five members from each of the two largest political parties, and four members unaffiliated with either political party. Requires nine votes to approve final district maps. Establishes standards for drawing new lines, including respecting the geographic integrity of neighborhoods and encouraging geographic compactness. Permits State Legislature to draw lines for congressional districts subject to these standards. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Probably no significant increase in state redistricting costs. (Initiative 07-0077.) (Full Text)

I’ll be voting yes on Prop 11, but with no particular enthusiasm. Peter Schrag, writing in the Sacramento Bee, gets it pretty much right:

California’s Proposition 11, which would take the power of drawing legislative districts out of the hands of the politicians who are most vitally interested in it, won’t do much to reduce partisanship in Sacramento or solve most of California’s other problems.

But let’s pass the thing so we can get this old saw off the agenda and attend to some reforms that might make a real difference.

My list of reforms (proportional representation and public campaign financing are at the top) isn’t the same as Schrag’s, but we come to the same conclusion. I’ll vote for Prop 11, but I won’t lose any sleep if it fails.

One Comment

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  1. Paul Haughey / Oct 12 2008

    A study by Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of Calif. confirms your point – that redistricting won’t make much of a difference, the problem is the partisan party members elected. However, a close reading of the study suggests it make make a small, but significant difference. Republicans became more partisan with gerrymandered districts. This makes sense, because gerrymandering requires cramming more of the minority party into fewer districts. This makes a difference on close votes, and on the budget vote, which requires 2/3. Further details on the benefits of Proposition 11 can be found at http://www.calcentrist.com/proposition11.html.

    Paul Haughey

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