Monday, August 3, 2009

Bureau of State Audits issues Prop. 11 redistricting commission regulations

When voters passed Proposition 11 last fall to establish a new, citizens redistricting commission to draw legislative district lines starting in 2011, they gave the job of implementing the measure to the Bureau of State Audits, the state's independent, external auditor. The job went to the Bureau because it is one of the few state agencies truly insulated from political or partisan influence by design. However, implementing an initiative and creating a new state program is not the kind of job usually thrown to this agency and its staff, who more typically focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of existing government programs.

However, it is clear the Bureau is dedicated to successfully implementing Prop. 11, and its staff members and consultants have worked hard throughout this year to gather public input before producing regulations to govern the new commission application and selection process. CVF weighed in with a letter of recommendations, focusing on the need for transparency throughout the process, the random selection process, funding, and other topics.

Over the weekend, the Bureau published on its Prop. 11 homepage the new, draft regulations to guide Prop. 11 implementation. These cover a variety of important topics that will impact significantly the application and selection process. For example, the proposed regulations provide definitions for numerous terms that appear in Prop. 11, including key phrases such as "ability to be impartial", "analytical skills" and "appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography" that will be judged by the Bureau's Audit Review Panel in deciding which applicants are most qualified to serve on the new commission.

The new regulations are quite comprehensive, and the package on the Bureau's web site includes a number of supporting memoranda that further explain the thinking and legal basis for the various judgment calls the Bureau's staff made in deciding the specific details on how to implement Prop. 11. A public hearing will take place on September 14 at the Secretary of State's office in downtown Sacramento to gather public input on the draft regulations. The Bureau also invites the public to submit written comments. More information on Proposition 11 is available from the Redistricting Reform section of the CVF web site.