Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 30. General Assembly
Chapter 62. Virginia Redistricting Commission
9/23/2021

Chapter 62. Virginia Redistricting Commission.

§ 30-391. Virginia Redistricting Commission.

A. The Virginia Redistricting Commission is established in the legislative branch of state government. It shall be convened in the year 2020 and every 10 years thereafter for the purpose of establishing districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly.

B. As used in this chapter:

"Census data" means the population data received from the United States Bureau of the Census pursuant to P.L. 94-171.

"Commission" means the Virginia Redistricting Commission established pursuant to this chapter.

"Committee" means the Redistricting Commission Selection Committee established pursuant to § 30-393.

"Partisan public office" means (i) an elective or appointive office in the executive or legislative branch or in an independent establishment of the federal government; (ii) an elective office in the executive or legislative branch of the government of the Commonwealth, or an office that is filled by appointment and is exempt from the Virginia Personnel Act (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.); or (iii) an office of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the Commonwealth that is filled by an election process involving nomination and election of candidates on a partisan basis.

"Political party office" means an elective office in the national or state organization of a political party, as defined in § 24.2-101.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-392. Membership; terms; vacancies; chairman; quorum; compensation and expenses.

A. The Virginia Redistricting Commission shall consist of 16 commissioners that include eight legislative commissioners and eight citizen commissioners as follows: two commissioners shall be members of the Senate of Virginia, representing the political party having the highest number of members in the Senate and appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate; two commissioners shall be members of the Senate, representing the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate and appointed by the leader of that political party; two commissioners shall be members of the House of Delegates, representing the political party having the highest number of members in the House of Delegates and appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates; two commissioners shall be members of the House of Delegates, representing the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates and appointed by the leader of that political party; and eight citizen commissioners who shall be selected by the Redistricting Commission Selection Committee pursuant to § 30-394. No appointing authority shall appoint himself to serve as a legislative commissioner or a citizen commissioner.

B. Legislative commissioners selected to serve as commissioners of the Commission shall be appointed by the respective authorities no later than December 1 of the year ending in zero and shall continue to serve until their successors are appointed. In making its appointments, the appointing authorities shall endeavor to have their appointees reflect the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment, such that the proper partisan balance of the Commission is maintained.

C. Citizen commissioners selected to serve as commissioners of the Virginia Redistricting Commission shall be selected by the Redistricting Commission Selection Committee as provided in § 30-394. In making its selections, the Committee shall ensure the citizen commissioners are, as a whole, representative of the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth. Citizen commissioners shall be appointed no later than January 15 of the year ending in one and shall continue to serve until their successors are appointed. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled by the Commission selecting a replacement from the list submitted pursuant to subsection E of § 30-394 from which the commissioner being replaced was selected and shall require an affirmative vote of a majority of the commissioners, including at least one commissioner representing or affiliated with each political party.

D. Legislative commissioners shall receive such compensation as provided in § 30-19.12, and citizen commissioners shall receive such compensation as provided in § 2.2-2813 for their services. All members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. All such compensation and expense payments shall come from existing appropriations to the Commission.

E. By February 1 of the year ending in one, the Commission shall hold a public meeting at which it shall select a chairman from its membership. The chairman shall be a citizen commissioner and shall be responsible for coordinating the work of the Commission. A majority of the commissioners appointed, which majority shall include a majority of the legislative commissioners and a majority of the citizen commissioners, shall constitute a quorum.

F. All meetings and records of the Commission shall be subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.), except as provided in subsection E of § 30-394. All records and documents of the Commission, or any individual or group performing delegated functions of or advising the Commission, related to the Commission's work, including internal communications and communications from outside parties, shall be considered public information.

G. Commissioners, staff of the Commission, and any other advisor or consultant to the Commission shall not communicate with any person outside the Commission about matters related to reapportionment or redistricting outside of a public meeting or hearing. Written public comments submitted to the Commission, staff of the Commission, or any other advisor or consultant to the Commission shall not be a violation of this subsection.

H. In the event the Commission hires a lawyer or law firm, the Commission as an entity shall be considered the client of the lawyer or the law firm. No individual commissioner or group of commissioners shall be considered to be the client of the lawyer or the law firm.

I. Notwithstanding subsection G or any other provision of law, the Chairs of the Virginia Redistricting Commission shall keep the Senate President Pro Tempore, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the House Minority Leader, and the Governor informed about the timing of availability of United States Bureau of the Census data as it relates to the tabulation of the population for reapportionment purposes pursuant to P.L. 94-171, and options for redistricting and its impact on elections for the House of Delegates.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 552.

§ 30-393. Redistricting Commission Selection Committee; chairman; quorum; compensation and expenses.

A. There shall be a Redistricting Commission Selection Committee established for the purpose of selecting the citizen commissioners of the Virginia Redistricting Commission. This committee shall consist of five retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia.

B. By November 15 of the year ending in zero, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia shall certify to the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of Virginia of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate of Virginia a list of at least 10 retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia who are willing to serve on the Committee, and no retired judge who is a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, child-in-law, or sibling-in-law of, or a cohabitating member of a household with, a member of the Congress of the United States or of the General Assembly shall be included in such list. In compiling this list, the Chief Justice shall give consideration to the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth. These members shall each select a judge from the list and shall promptly, but not later than November 20, communicate their selection to the Chief Justice, who shall immediately notify the four judges selected. In making their selections, the members shall give consideration to the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth. Within three days of being notified of their selection, the four judges shall select, by a majority vote, a judge from the list prescribed herein to serve as the fifth member of the Committee, who shall serve as the chairman of the Committee.

A majority of the Committee members, which majority shall include the chairman, shall constitute a quorum.

The judges of the Committee shall serve until their successors are appointed. If a judge cannot, for any reason, complete his term, the remaining judges shall select a replacement from the list prescribed herein.

C. Members of the Committee shall receive compensation for their services and shall be allowed all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. The compensation and expenses of members and all other necessary expenses of the Committee shall be provided from existing appropriations to the Commission.

D. All meetings and records of the Committee shall be subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.), except as provided in subsection E of § 30-394.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 1-210 regarding the computation of time, if an act required by this section is to be performed on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or any day or part of a day on which the government office where the act to be performed is closed, the act required shall be performed on the first business day immediately preceding the Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or day on which the government office is closed.

F. Notwithstanding subsection C, or any other provision of law, the daily compensation and reimbursement for reasonable and necessary expenses for legislative and non-legislative members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission for attendance at an official meeting shall be set at the same amounts provided for legislative members in paragraphs B.4.d. and B.5. of Item 1 of Acts 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 552.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 552.

§ 30-394. Citizen commissioners; application process; qualifications; selection.

A. Within three days following the selection of the fifth member of the Committee, the Committee shall adopt an application and process by which residents of the Commonwealth may apply to serve on the Commission as citizen commissioners. The Division of Legislative Services shall assist the Committee in the development of the application and process.

The application for service on the Commission shall require applicants to provide personal contact information and information regarding the applicant's race, ethnicity, gender, age, date of birth, education, and household income. The application shall require an applicant to disclose, for the period of three years immediately preceding the application period, the applicant's (i) voter registration status; (ii) preferred political party affiliation, if any, and any political party primary elections in which he has voted; (iii) history of any partisan public offices or political party offices held or sought; (iv) employment history, including any current or prior employment with the Congress of the United States or one of its members, the General Assembly or one of its members, any political party, or any campaign for a partisan public office, including a volunteer position; and (v) relevant leadership experience or involvements with professional, social, political, volunteer, and community organizations and causes.

The application shall require an applicant to disclose information regarding the partisan activities and employment history of the applicant's parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, child-in-law, or sibling-in-law, or any person with whom the applicant is a cohabitating member of a household, for the period of three years immediately preceding the application period.

The Committee may require applicants to submit three letters of recommendation from individuals or organizations.

The application process shall provide for both paper and electronic or online applications. The Committee shall cause to be advertised throughout the Commonwealth information about the Commission and how interested persons may apply.

B. To be eligible for service on the Commission, a person shall have been a resident of the Commonwealth and a registered voter in the Commonwealth for three years immediately preceding the application period. He shall have voted in at least two of the previous three general elections. No person shall be eligible for service on the Commission who:

1. Holds, has held, or has sought partisan public office or political party office;

2. Is employed by or has been employed by a member of the Congress of the United States or of the General Assembly or is employed directly by or has been employed directly by the United States Congress or by the General Assembly;

3. Is employed by or has been employed by any federal, state, or local campaign;

4. Is employed by or has been employed by any political party or is a member of a political party central committee;

5. Is a lobbyist registered pursuant to Article 3 (§ 2.2-418 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 2.2 or a lobbyist's principal as defined in § 2.2-419 or has been such a lobbyist or lobbyist's principal in the previous five years; or

6. Is a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, child-in-law, or sibling-in-law of a person described in subdivisions 1 through 5, or is a cohabitating member of a household with such a person.

C. The application period shall begin no later than December 1 of the year ending in zero and shall end four weeks after the beginning date. During this period, interested persons shall submit a completed application and any required documentation to the Division of Legislative Services. All applications shall be reviewed by the Division of Legislative Services to ensure an applicant's eligibility for service pursuant to subsection B, and any applicant who is ineligible for service shall be removed from the applicant pool.

The Division of Legislative Services shall make available the application for persons to use when submitting a paper application and shall provide electronic access for electronic submission of applications.

D. Within two days of the close of the application period, the Division of Legislative Services shall provide to the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of Virginia of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate of Virginia the applications and documentation submitted by those applicants who are eligible for service on the Commission pursuant to subsection B and submitted complete applications, including any required documentation.

E. By January 1 of the year ending in one, those persons receiving the applications pursuant to subsection D shall each submit to the Committee a list of at least 16 citizen candidates for service on the Commission. In selecting citizen candidates, they shall give consideration to the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth.

They shall notify the Division of Legislative Services of the citizen candidates submitted to the Committee for consideration, and the Division of Legislative Services shall promptly provide to the Committee the applications and documentation for each citizen candidate being considered. Only the applications and documentation for each citizen candidate shall be maintained as public records.

F. Within two weeks of receipt of the lists of citizen candidates and related materials pursuant to subsection E, but no later than January 15, the Committee shall select, by a majority vote in a public meeting, two citizen members from each list submitted. In making its selections, the Committee shall ensure the citizen commissioners are, as a whole, representative of the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth. The Committee shall promptly notify those eight citizens of their selection to serve as a citizen commissioner of the Commission.

No member of the Committee shall communicate with a member of the General Assembly or the United States Congress, or any person acting on behalf of a member of the General Assembly or the United States Congress, about any matter related to the selection of citizen commissioners after receipt of the lists submitted pursuant to subsection E.

G. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 1-210 regarding the computation of time, if an act required by this section is to be performed on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or any day or part of a day on which the government office where the act to be performed is closed, the act required shall be performed on the first business day immediately preceding the Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, or day on which the government office is closed.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-395. Staff to Virginia Redistricting Commission; census liaison.

A. The Division of Legislative Services shall provide staff support to the Commission. Staff shall perform those duties assigned to it by the Commission. The Director of the Division of Legislative Services, or his designated representative, shall serve as the state liaison with the United States Bureau of the Census on matters relating to the tabulation of the population for reapportionment purposes pursuant to P.L. 94-171. The governing bodies, electoral boards, and registrars of every county and municipality shall cooperate with the Division of Legislative Services in the exchange of all statistical and other information pertinent to preparation for the census.

B. The Division of Legislative Services shall maintain the current election district and precinct boundaries of each county and city as a part of the Commission's computer-assisted mapping and redistricting system. Whenever a county or city governing body adopts an ordinance that changes an election district or precinct boundary, the local governing body shall provide a copy of its ordinance, along with Geographic Information System (GIS) maps and other evidence documenting the boundary, to the Division of Legislative Services.

C. The provisions of Article 2 (§ 24.2-302 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of Title 24.2, including the statistical reports referred to in that article, shall be controlling in any legal determination of a district boundary.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-396. Public participation in redistricting process.

A. All meetings and hearings held by the Commission shall be adequately advertised and planned to ensure the public is able to attend and participate fully. Meetings and hearings shall be advertised in multiple languages as practicable and appropriate.

B. Prior to proposing any plan for districts for the United States House of Representatives, the Senate, or the House of Delegates and prior to voting to submit such plans to the General Assembly, the Commission shall hold at least three public hearings in order to receive and consider comments from the public. Public hearings may be held virtually and any public hearings that are held in person shall be conducted in different parts of the Commonwealth.

C. The Commission shall establish and maintain a website or other equivalent electronic platform. The website shall be available to the general public and shall be used to disseminate information about the Commission's activities. The website shall be capable of receiving comments and proposals by citizens of the Commonwealth. Prior to voting on any proposed plan, the Commission shall publish the proposed plans on the website.

D. All data used by the Commission in the drawing of districts shall be available to the public on its website. Such data, including census data, precinct maps, election results, and shapefiles, shall be posted within three days of receipt by the Commission.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-397. Proposal and submission of plans for districts.

A. The Commission shall submit to the General Assembly plans for districts for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly no later than 45 days following the receipt of census data.

To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the Senate, a plan shall receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative commissioners, including at least three of the four legislative commissioners who are members of the Senate, and at least six of the eight citizen commissioners.

To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the House of Delegates, a plan shall receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative commissioners, including at least three of the four legislative commissioners who are members of the House of Delegates, and at least six of the eight citizen commissioners.

B. The Commission shall submit to the General Assembly plans for districts for the United States House of Representatives no later than 60 days following the receipt of census data or by the first day of July of that year, whichever occurs first.

To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the United States House of Representatives, a plan shall receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative commissioners and at least six of the eight citizen commissioners.

C. If the Commission fails to submit a plan for districts by the deadline set forth in subsection A or B, the Commission shall have 14 days following its initial failure to submit a plan to the General Assembly. If the Commission fails to submit a plan for districts to the General Assembly by this date, the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia pursuant to § 30-399.

D. All plans submitted pursuant to this section shall comply with the criteria and standards set forth in § 24.2-304.04.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-398. Consideration of plans by the General Assembly; timeline.

A. All plans for districts for the Senate and the House of Delegates shall be embodied in and voted on as a single bill.

B. All bills embodying plans for districts for the United States House of Representatives, the Senate, or the House of Delegates shall be voted on by the General Assembly in accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia, except no amendments shall be permitted. All bills embodying a plan that are approved by both houses shall become law without the signature of the Governor and, pursuant to Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia, shall take effect immediately.

C. Within 15 days of receipt of any plan for districts, the General Assembly shall take a vote on a bill embodying such plan. If the General Assembly fails to adopt the bill by this deadline, the Commission shall submit a new plan for districts within 14 days of the General Assembly's failure to adopt the bill. Within seven days of receipt of such plan, the General Assembly shall take a vote on the bill embodying the plan, and if the General Assembly fails to adopt the plan by this deadline, the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia pursuant to § 30-399.

D. If the Commission submits a plan for districts pursuant to subsection C of § 30-397, the General Assembly shall take a vote on such plan within seven days of its receipt. If the General Assembly fails to adopt the plan by this deadline, the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia pursuant to § 30-399.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-399. Establishment of districts by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

A. In the event the Commission fails to submit a plan for districts by the deadline set forth in subsection A or B of § 30-397, or the General Assembly fails to adopt a plan for districts by the deadline set forth in subsection C or D of § 30-398, the Supreme Court of Virginia (the Court) shall be responsible for establishing the districts.

B. The Court shall, not later than March 1 of a year ending in one, enact rules and procedures as may be necessary for implementing the requirements of Article II, Section 6-A of the Constitution of Virginia, empowering the Court to establish congressional or state legislative districts as provided for in that section. In enacting such rules and procedures, the Court shall follow the provisions of this section.

C. Public participation in the Court's redistricting deliberations shall be permitted. Such public participation may be through briefings, written submissions, hearings in open court, or any other means as may be prescribed by the Court.

D. The Division of Legislative Services shall make available staff support and technical assistance to the Court to perform those duties as may be requested or assigned to it by the Court.

E. Any plan for congressional or state legislative districts established by the Court shall adhere to the standards and criteria for districts set forth in Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia and § 24.2-304.04.

F. The Court shall appoint two special masters to assist the Court in the establishment of districts. The two special masters shall work together to develop any plan to be submitted to the Court for its consideration.

Within one week of the Commission's failure to submit plans or the General Assembly's failure to adopt plans, the leaders in the House of Delegates having the highest and next highest number of members in the House of Delegates and the leaders in the Senate of Virginia having the highest and next highest number of members in the Senate of Virginia shall each submit to the Court a list of three or more nominees, along with a brief biography and resume for each nominee, including the nominee's particular expertise or experience relevant to redistricting. The Court shall then select, by a majority vote, one special master from the lists submitted by the legislative leaders of the political party having the highest number of members in their respective chambers and one special master from the lists submitted by the legislative leaders of the political party having the next highest number of members in their respective chambers. The persons appointed to serve as special masters shall have the requisite qualifications and experience to serve as a special master and shall have no conflicts of interest. In making its appointments, the Court shall consider any relevant redistricting experience in the Commonwealth and any practical or academic experience in the field of redistricting. The Court shall be reimbursed by the Commonwealth for all costs, including fees and expenses, related to the appointment or work of the special master from funds appropriated for this purpose.

G. Any justice who is a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, child-in-law, or sibling-in-law of, or a cohabitating member of a household with, a member of the Congress of the United States or of the General Assembly shall recuse himself from any decision made pursuant to this section, and no senior justice designated pursuant to § 17.1-302 shall be assigned to the case or matter to serve in his place.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.

§ 30-400. Remedial redistricting plans.

If any congressional or state legislative district established pursuant to this chapter or the provisions of Article II, Sections 6 and 6-A of the Constitution of Virginia is declared unlawful or unconstitutional, in whole or in part, by order of any state or federal court, the Commission shall be convened to determine and propose a redistricting plan to remedy the unlawful or unconstitutional district.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 56.