LA County Fights Law Requiring Redistricting Panels

(Photo credit: Dwight Burdette/Wikipedia)

(CN) – Los Angeles County will continue fighting a 2016 law that requires a randomized citizens committee to draw new voting lines, written by one if its own state senators.

LA County’s private attorneys said Wednesday they will appeal a state court’s recent decision to uphold the implementation of Senate Bill 958 by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

County leaders say the measure singles out LA County by forcing it to adopt a 14-person commission to redraw district lines after the 2020 census. It wants to retain control over the redistricting blueprint.

Outside of LA and San Diego counties, district voting lines are decided by county boards of supervisors.

The county’s lawyers say there is no basis for the Legislature to force state’s most populous county to adopt new redistricting methods.

“The requirements for our independent commission are much more rigid and inflexible, and we think unconstitutional,” said Laura Brill of Kendall Brill & Kelly in Los Angeles. “We think the people of Los Angeles should be allowed to decide for themselves just like everybody else, whether to have an independent commission or have a board continue to do redistricting.”

The county sued the state in 2017, just months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 958. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue upheld the law in March, denying the county’s attempt to freeze the bill.

The bill’s author, Sen. Lara, calls the measure a “good government proposal” that will ensure that district lines are drawn in a bipartisan manner.

“This bill will help establish a more inclusive, diverse and representative process that reflects LA County’s 10 million residents,” Lara said in a statement.

The new commission is supposed to reflect party registration statistics in the county, with the county auditor-controller selecting a majority of the commissioners at random from a pool of candidates. The selected commissioners must have lived in the county for at least five years and would be barred from holding public office or lobbying for five years after being appointed.

Lara’s bill is modeled after a 2011 bill that established an independent redistricting commission in San Diego County. A five-member commission comprised of retired judges is now tasked with drawing San Diego County’s voting lines.

Brill hopes the state appeals court will take a “fresh look” at LA County’s case.

“No law of this kind has ever been tried before,” Brill said of SB 958.


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