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House Election Law Committee Backs Independent Redistricting Commission

The House Election Law committee has voted 20 – 0 to recommend passage of HB 706, which creates a 15-member, independent redistricting commission.  The Chair of the Committee appointed a subcommittee to review the proposed legislation and to recommend amendments, if the subcommittee deemed them appropriate.  The subcommittee was chaired by Committee Vice Chairman Wayne Moynihan (D).  Additional members included Representatives Paul R. Bergeron (D), Gerald Ward (D),  Timothy Lang (R), and Kathleen Hoelzel (R).  The subcommittee recommended a number of minor amendments to the bill which included allowing for more open-ended participation on the redistricting commission by municipal officials, reducing the initial pool of applicants scheduled for interviews from 60 to 45 candidates, and strengthening the criteria that should be considered during the redistricting process.  No one who has, during the preceding four years, been a candidate for, or elected to, federal, state, or county elective office would be eligible to serve on the commission, nor would anyone who has worked for a major political party during that time, been a registered lobbyist, or has made significant contributions to any one federal candidate be allowed to participate.  Members of the commission will include five Republicans, five Democrats, and five members who are of neither party.  HB 706 — with unanimous, bipartisan committee support — will now go to the full House for consideration.  The bill will appear on the February 27th House Calendar. (Update: HB 706 was subsequently approved by the House on a roll call vote, 218 – 123.)

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