Redistricting | Gerrymandering(?)
2nd Amendment Threats in Committee Today (see Feb 18th video):
FAILED in Committee: H.B. 109 Universal Background Checks for Firearm Purchasers
FAILED in Committee: H.B. 115 Dangerous Weapon Custodian Liability
Cannabis Legislation gets approval from Senate with 2nd substitute:
S.B. 121 Medical Cannabis Amendments - Needs to pass by end of week to ensure the 1st dispensary can open on time.
Senator Bramble “In Progress” (yet to be numbered bill) opened on Friday 2.21.20. Here comes one of the most controversial things the legislature does! https://le.utah.gov/asp/billsintro/SenResults.asp?Listbox2=BRAMBCS
• Gerrymandering is the act of politicians manipulating the redrawing of legislative district lines in order to help their friends and hurt their enemies. They may seek to help one party win extra seats (a partisan gerrymander), make incumbents of both parties safer (an incumbent-protection gerrymander) or target particular incumbents who have fallen out of favor.
• Article worth looking over: https://thefulcrum.us/worst-gerrymandering-districts
• How do you know when you've seen a gerrymandered district? Maybe it looks like a duck or a snake, or a pair of earmuffs. Or maybe there's no obvious sign that the mapmakers played games with the contours in order to ensure a particular electoral outcome inside those boundaries.
Legislators and “Better Boundaries” (BB) (https://betterboundaries.org) have been meeting for the past 2+ weeks in relative secret, in regards to Prop 4 that passed in 2018 and created a 7 member “indepen dent redistricting commission”. Been negotiating for MONTHS to make changes to the initiative; where they feel there are things that are unconstitutional. Discussions between the Leg and BB broke down, and we now have this bill file opened and start the process for making the changes which will be in place for 2021. Prop 4 passed with just over 50%, and failed in 18 of 29 senate districts, and 43 of 75 house districts (so they will need 2 more Senators, and 7 more Reps to support to get the super majority).
• Prop4: https://ballotpedia.org/Utah_Proposition_4,_Independent_Advisory_Commission_on_Redistricting_Initiative_(2018)
• We do not “know” what the changes will be, but here are what is being circulated:
o Initiative said legislature “shall” make their staff available to the commission which is unconstitutional. So, the legislature will fully fund the commission to hire a staff. No idea what this will cost, but rumored to be in the millions; will they need their own software?
**Recall: We had the referendum over the new tax proposal, so this restricting of the panel would need to pass with 2/3rd or greater to prevent that, and we do not know where the governor stands on this for a possible veto.
o Takes out the ability for the public to sue the legislature if they don’t follow certain criteria. Meaning, no right of private action.
o Two parts/standards that were in debate, and that the Supreme Court has not ruled on:
Incumbent protection (could not take into account where current leg lives)
Partisan symmetry – Meaning, make each area as equal as possible.
o Bramble bill rumored to say that the commission can set whatever standard they want, but the Supreme Court needs to follow Supreme Court/voter rights act, and others when setting the boundaries.
• SO, now we have the Legislators is changing ALL 3 of the ballot initiatives from 2018 – Cannabis, Medicaid Expansion, and NOW redistricting. Legislators are aware that this “looks bad” but moving forward anyways.
• Prop 4 had the 7 person committee made up of 4 Republicans, and 3 Democrats and now the Bramble bill will make it 5 Republican and 2 Democrat. – One chosen by each: Governor, Speaker of House, Pres of Senate, Majority Whip House, Majority Whip Senate, and then the Speaker and the President choose 2 more that need to be “independent” for at least 2 yrs.
We heard 27 Bills in the House today – 7 contested, but only two heavily contested.
HB256 - Student Aid Amendments: Would require FASA examine for H.S. graduation, and included opt-out language, PASSED 48-26-1
HB101 – Distracted Drivers Amendment: Crime to Hold a Cell-Phone in car, PASSED 40-32-3
- 25 NEW numbered bills
- 21 NEW requested bills – 1 from S Christiansen that he already has numbered? Not sure on this one.
Total Bill Count
- House 408
- Senate 182
- House Concurrent Resolutions (HCR) 22
- House Joint Resolution (HJR) 21
- House Resolutions (HR) 3
- Senate Concurrent Resolutions (SCR) 7
- Senate Joint Resolutions (SJR) 12
- Senate Resolutions (SR) 1