LEGISLATIVE REAPPORTIONMENT COMMITTEE
VON BRAUN CENTER
700 MONROE STREET
OCTOBER 3, 2011
SENATOR DIAL: Let me welcome each of you and thank you for coming today. This is a hearing in which we, as a committee, will gain information so that we can redistrict.
We're required after every census every ten years to draw redistricting lines based upon the population in order to ensure one person one vote. And the population shift throughout the State requires us to draw new senate and house district boundaries.
We already have finished the congressional districts and the board of education districts. That legislation has gone to the justice department for clearance so they can run in the 2012 election. So we're in the process now of gaining input.
We have no plan. We're here to gain information. We're conducting twenty-one public hearings throughout the State. Today we've been in Fort Payne, Guntersville and we'll finish here. Tomorrow we'll wind up in Decatur down with Senator Orr and he's going to host us down there.
I want to welcome Senator Arthur Orr from District Three and Bill Holtzclaw from District Two. I thank y'all for being here and participating in this and others.
I have the population difference and then the Senate Two, Bill, you've got to give up forty-two thousand four hundred and ninety-five votes and in District Seven, Paul Sanford's district, he has to give up twelve thousand three hundred and forty-two. So as you can see simply from those numbers in the senate we've got a population growth in this part of the State which is good because it shows you're growing. But it also creates a problem for us in the reapportionment.
My counterpart who's working with me is also the chairman of the House and co-chair of the committee is Dr. McClendon. And I'm going to turn it over to him at this time. He will make some comments and lay the rules down for the public hearing.
REP. MCCLENDON: I believe everybody has used the sign-in sheets and thank you for doing that. Everybody will be given an opportunity to speak whether you used the sign-in sheets or not. Anyone here who wishes to say something, your chance will come.
What we have before us is current plans. There are no 2011 plans yet. That's what we're doing, we're trying to get information from around the State so we can get the first draft of a new plan that we're mandated by the constitution to do this.
Once we come up with a plan and it will be based on input from the public and anyone else that wants to say something. In fact, everything today will be recorded. We have a Court Reporter here. Any testimony will be recorded, submitted to The Reapportionment Committee, which is a joint committee which is made up of both House and Senate members, both Democrats and Republicans. It's a representation of the mix within the Legislature. And they will receive this information. And any member of the Legislature will have access to any testimony that we receive in the twenty-one cities.
When you do speak, we ask you to give your name and where you live. The only topic we're here to discuss is redistricting. Any other issues that you've got, you've got two Senators over there, go talk to them after the meeting. We're here to talk about redistricting.
And we're here to listen to what you have to say. We're not here really to answer your questions about the new plan because we don't have a plan. But we are here to hear what you have to say.
We do have a hearing officer by the name of Dorman Walker on the right over here. Dorman will conduct this meeting and your comments or any questions or suggestions that you have should be directed toward him. If there's no other questions, I'll turn it over to Mr. Walker.
MR. WALKER: Thank you, Senator Dial and Representative Dr. McClendon. There are some guidelines that the Legislature is committed by law and by its own choice to follow. The first of those is that every district has to have essentially equal population. This is the principle known as one person one vote.
What it means is that all districts should have approximately equal populations so that the vote of a person in one district has equal weight to the vote of a person in another district. Unlike in congressional districting where the State is required to have zero deviation.
In legislative redistricting the State is allowed to have some deviation. In the past that figure was understood to be a total amount of deviation of ten percent. Case law since the last redistricting has indicated that ten percent is not a safe harbor and that a more conservative number should be used.
For that reason the Legislature has selected as its guideline that it wants a plan with no more than two percent total deviation above and below the ideal population. And those ideal populations again are for the Senate one hundred thirty-six thousand five hundred sixty-three and for the House is forty-five thousand five hundred and twenty-one.
So the first principle guiding the Legislature is one person one vote. All the districts have to be approximately equal population. The second principle guiding the Legislature is that any bill proposed or any plan proposed to be considered by The Reapportionment Committee has to comply with the constitution, particularly the fourteenth amendment, and has to comply with sections two and five of The Voting Rights Act which protect minority access to the election process.
And a redistricting plan cannot have either the purpose or the effect of diluting minority voting strength, may not be retrogressive and shall otherwise comply with sections two and five of The Voting Rights Act and the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the constitution.
Other guidelines are as follows: No district shall be drawn in a manner that subordinates race neutral districting criteria to considerations that stereotype voters on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group. All legislative districts will be composed of contiguous and reasonably compact geography.
According to the Alabama Constitution, sovereignty resides with The People of Alabama and all districts shall be drawn to reflect the democratic will of all The People concerning how their government shall be structured. House and Senate districts shall be drawn on the basis of total population as opposed to voting age population.
The number of Senate districts is set by statute at thirty-five and under the Alabama Constitution may not exceed thirty-five. The number of Senate districts shall not be less than one-fourth or more than one-third the number of House districts. The number of House districts is set by statute at one zero five and under the Alabama Constitution may not exceed one zero six. The number of House districts shall not be less than sixty-seven.
Each House and Senate district should be composed of as few counties as is practicable. Every part of every district shall be contiguous with every other part of the district. Contiguity by water is allowed, but point-to-point contiguity and long-lasso contiguity is not.
Every district should be compact. Contests between incumbent members of the Legislature should be avoided whenever possible. The integrity of communities of interest shall be respected. For purposes of these guidelines a community of interest is defined as an area with a recognized similarity of interest, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, geographic, governmental, regional, social, cultural, partisan, or historic interests, county, municipal or voting precinct boundaries, and commonalty of communications.
Public comment will be received by The Reapportionment Committee regarding the existence and importance of various communities of interest. The Reapportionment Committee will attempt to accommodate communities of interest identified by people in a specific location.
It is inevitable, however, that some districts will be advanced more than others by the choice of particular district configurations. The discernment, weigh and balancing of the very factors that contribute to communities of interest is an intensely political process best carried out by the elected representatives of the people. Local community and political leaders and organizations and the entire citizenry shall be consulted about new district lines.
Those are the guidelines which The Reapportionment Committee and the Legislature has established for this redistricting activity. I now call on the people who signed up. If you don't want to speak, please so indicate. If you do want to speak, please stand and state your name and indicate if you're representing a group, what group you're representing, if you're representing yourself, what community you're from please.
Everybody will have about three minutes to speak. Actually, under these circumstances if you need longer, that will be allowed. The first one who signed up is Mr. Eddie Green representing the Alabama Democratic Conference. Mr. Green, do you wish to speak, sir?
MR. GREEN: No, but I do have a question.
MR. WALKER: A question?
MR. GREEN: Yes.
MR. WALKER: All right, let me see if I can entertain it.
MR. GREEN: Okay, the question is, if you submit a plan, must you submit to both the House of Representatives and the Senate or do you submit to one or the other?
MR. WALKER: You don't have to submit to both. But you do have to submit it in accordance with the guidelines that are published by The Reapportionment Committee. So go to The Reapportionment Committee website.
Google Alabama Reapportionment Committee and that will come up with the rules for submitting plans to The Reapportionment Committee. And the final version of the plan has to be drawn, I believe, on The Reapportionment Committee system down in Montgomery. Alice Sams. Ms. Sams, do you wish to speak?
MS. SAMS: No, not at this time.
MR. WALKER: Okay, she does not wish to speak. R. L. Shanken. Mr. Shanken; is that correct?
MR. SHANKEN: Yes.
MR. WALKER: Sir, do you wish to speak?
MR. SHANKEN: No.
MR. WALKER: Mr. Shanken does not wish to speak. R. J. Rhodes. I assume that's you. Mr. Rhodes does not wish to speak. We have two State Senators today. Do either of them wish to speak?
SENATOR ORR: No.
SENATOR HOLTZCLAW: No.
MR. WALKER: Neither of them wishes to speak. Unless anyone indicates they want to speak, I'm going to close the hearing. Last call. All right, I thank you for coming. This hearing is closed.
(END OF HEARING)
C E R T I F I C A T E
STATE OF ALABAMA
COUNTY OF MADISON
I, Timothy T. Casey, hereby certify that the above and foregoing proceeding was taken down by me on Computerized Stenotype, and the testimony thereto was transcribed under my supervision, and that the foregoing represents a true and correct transcript of the proceeding had by said parties upon said hearing.
I further certify that I am duly licensed by the Alabama Board of Court Reporting as a Certified Court Reporter as evidenced by the ACCR number following my name below. I further certify that I am neither of counsel, nor of kin to the parties in the action, nor am I in anywise interested in the result of said cause.
/s/ Timothy T. Casey
Timothy T. Casey,
CCR ACCR #301 (Exp. 9/30/12)
Notary Public (Exp. 9/1/13)