SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the STATE Fair and Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This act establishes an independent citizen redistricting commission to advance the creation of fair and independent legislative district maps.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) An independent redistricting commission shall be established in January of each year ending in one. The independent redistricting commission shall be charged with establishing all election district boundaries for all state and federal elections in STATE.

(b) The commission shall consist of 13 members of the public. Those who have within the prior five years been an elected official, family or staff of an elected official, a party official, an officer of a an elected official’s campaign committee, or a paid lobbyist shall not serve on the commission. The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate shall each appoint two members and shall notify the Secretary of State of such appointments no later than 60 days of the effective date of this section.

(c) Within 60 days of the appointment of the initial 8 members, the Secretary of State shall designate a time and place to hold a meeting in order to select 5 additional members. A public application process shall be required for the remaining 5 members. The Secretary of State shall administer the application process, which may include essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews.

(d) The Secretary of State shall put forward for selection by the commission an equal number of applicants from each recognized party as well as voters who have no affiliation with any recognized party in STATE for 5 years. No additional member shall be selected to the commission without the affirmative vote of at least 6 of the 8 initial members. Should the 8 members fail to nominate additional members with the requisite 6 votes, the unfilled positions shall be picked at random from the applicants approved by the Secretary of State. Once the initial 8 members have been selected by the legislative leaders, no additional member shall be selected if such selection results in more than 2 members of the commission having their voting residence in any one county.

(e) The terms of all commissioners shall be 10 years. A member may be re-appointed upon the expiration of his or her term. The members shall elect annually a chairperson from among the members. In the event of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office, a member of the commission may be removed by a 2/3 vote of the commission. Members shall automatically be removed if convicted of violating the laws of STATE. The commission may look at previous applicants or re-open the application process in order to fill a vacancy.

(f) The commission may employ the services of experts, consultants, and support staff, including attorneys not employed by the Attorney General, as necessary to carry out its duties pursuant to section (h).

(g) Each commissioner shall be paid $200 a day, or $100 per half-day, plus mileage at the state employee rate while engaged in her or his official duties. These rates shall be adjusted annually to account for inflation or deflation based on the consumer price index.

(h) In addition to other duties prescribed by law, the commission shall:

(i) The commission shall establish districts for State Representatives, State Senators, and United States Senators and Representatives using the following criteria:

(j) The commission shall solicit redistricting plans and suggestions from the people of STATE. The commission shall provide a meaningful opportunity for all persons of STATE to participate in the public meetings, including, but not limited to:

(k) No later than January 1 of any year ending in 2, the commission shall act to approve final plans for all districts pertaining to all state and federal elections in STATE. To approve a final plan, the plan shall receive 9 “yes” votes from the commission, including 5 “yes” votes from members appointed by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of representatives, and the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate, and 3 “yes” votes from the other members. The plan shall go into effect once adopted by the legislature. The commission shall forward its final plan proposed maps to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate before January 5 of each year ending in two.

(l) If a chamber of the legislature fails to pass the final plans, the presiding officer of that chamber shall issue a written explanation specifying how the final plan fails the criteria listed section (i) or any other binding federal or state law. The commission shall then amend the final plans to the extent necessary to satisfy the criteria in section (i) of this chapter or other legal requirements and resubmit it to the legislature for a subsequent up or down floor vote.

(m) This process shall repeat until the legislature passes final plans for all districts pertaining to state and federal elections in STATE, at which point the plans shall be filed with the Secretary of State.

(n) Should no plan be enacted into law by March 15 in the year of an election, the plan proposed by the commission shall be used in creating districts with full force and effect as if that plan had been enacted into law, unless such commission plan is found to violate either the federal or the STATE constitution. Should the commission plan be found to be in violation of the STATE or federal constitution, the STATE Supreme Court shall adopt a plan conforming to the commission plan to the extent constitutionally permissible.

(o) After the plan takes effect as provided in this chapter, any registered voter may file a petition with the STATE Supreme Court challenging the plan.