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  88R1774 BEF-D
 
  By: Menéndez, Eckhardt S.B. No. 115
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the Texas Redistricting Commission.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 42.032, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 42.032.  REDISTRICTING: BOUNDARY CHANGES. If changes
  in county election precinct boundaries are necessary to give effect
  to a redistricting plan under Article III, Section 28a [28], of the
  Texas Constitution, each commissioners court shall order the
  changes before October 1 of the year in which the redistricting is
  done.
         SECTION 2.  The heading to Title 5, Government Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
  TITLE 5. OPEN GOVERNMENT; ETHICS; REDISTRICTING
         SECTION 3.  Title 5, Government Code, is amended by adding
  Subtitle C to read as follows:
  SUBTITLE C. REDISTRICTING
  CHAPTER 581. TEXAS REDISTRICTING COMMISSION
  SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
         Sec. 581.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Census year," "commission," and "statewide
  primary election" have the meanings assigned by Section 28b(a),
  Article III, Texas Constitution.
               (2)  "Immediate family member" means a person's spouse,
  parent, child, sibling, in-law, or other individual with whom the
  person has a bona fide family relationship established through
  blood or legal relation.
         Sec. 581.002.  COMPUTATION OF TIME. For purposes of this
  chapter, a day means a calendar day, except that if the final day of
  a period within which an action may or must be performed is a
  Saturday, Sunday, national holiday, or state holiday, the period is
  extended to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
         Sec. 581.003.  RETALIATION FOR ATTENDING COMMISSION MEETING
  PROHIBITED. Notwithstanding any other law, an employer may not
  discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, coerce, or retaliate
  against an employee because of the employee's attendance or
  scheduled attendance at any meeting of the commission.
  SUBCHAPTER B. SELECTION OF COMMISSION MEMBERS
         Sec. 581.051.  APPLICATIONS. (a) Not later than August 15
  of each year preceding a census year, the state auditor shall
  initiate an application process for commission members.
         (b)  The process must be open to all registered voters of
  this state and promote a diverse and qualified applicant pool.
         Sec. 581.052.  CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. (a) The state auditor
  shall remove an applicant with a conflict of interest from the
  applicant pool, including an applicant:
               (1)  who at any point during the 10 years preceding the
  application date:
                     (A)  was appointed or elected to, or was a
  candidate for, federal or state office;
                     (B)  served as an officer, employee, or paid
  consultant of a political party or of the campaign committee of a
  candidate for elective federal or state office;
                     (C)  served as an elected or appointed member of a
  political party's executive committee;
                     (D)  was a registered lobbyist;
                     (E)  served as a paid staff member for Congress or
  the legislature; or
                     (F)  contributed at least $2,000 or the amount
  provided by Subsection (b) to any congressional, state, or local
  candidate for elective public office in any year;
               (2)  with an immediate family member who would be
  disqualified as an applicant under Subdivision (1); or
               (3)  who is an employee of, a consultant to, party to a
  contract with, or an immediate family member of the governor, a
  member of the legislature, or a member of Congress.
         (b)  Beginning in 2029, on January 1 of each year ending in
  the numeral 9, the contribution amount prescribed by Subsection
  (a)(1)(F) is increased or decreased by an amount equal to the amount
  prescribed by that paragraph on December 31 of the preceding year
  multiplied by the percentage increase or decrease during the
  preceding decade in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban
  Consumers (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, as published by the United
  States Bureau of Labor Statistics or its successor in function.
         Sec. 581.053.  SELECTION OF APPLICANT SUBPOOLS. (a) After
  removing individuals with conflicts of interest from the applicant
  pool under Section 581.052, the state auditor shall, not later than
  March 15 of each census year, publicize the names of individuals in
  the applicant pool.
         (b)  From the applicant pool described by Subsection (a), the
  state auditor shall select:
               (1)  a majority subpool consisting of 20 of the most
  qualified applicants who would qualify as majority party members
  under Section 28b(e)(1), Article III, Texas Constitution;
               (2)  a minority subpool consisting of 20 of the most
  qualified applicants who would qualify as minority party members
  under Section 28b(e)(2), Article III, Texas Constitution; and
               (3)  an independent subpool consisting of 20 of the
  most qualified applicants who would qualify as independent members
  under Section 28b(e)(3), Article III, Texas Constitution.
         (c)  The state auditor shall select the members of the
  applicant subpools based on relevant analytical skills, ability to
  be impartial, and appreciation for this state's diverse
  demographics and geography.
         (d)  Before drawing the members of the commission under
  Section 581.054, the state auditor may not communicate with:
               (1)  a member, or a representative of a member, of the
  senate, the house of representatives, or Congress about any matter
  related to the selection process; or
               (2)  a member of the applicant pool, other than to
  notify each member of the pool in writing whether the member was
  selected for an applicant subpool.
         Sec. 581.054.  DRAWING TO SELECT FIRST EIGHT COMMISSION
  MEMBERS. Not later than July 5 of each census year, the state
  auditor shall select the first eight members of the commission by
  randomly drawing:
               (1)  three applicants from the majority subpool;
               (2)  three applicants from the minority subpool; and
               (3)  two applicants from the independent subpool.
         Sec. 581.055.  APPOINTMENT OF SECOND SIX COMMISSION MEMBERS.
  (a) Not later than August 15 of each census year, the eight
  commission members selected under Section 581.054 shall review the
  remaining applicants in each subpool and appoint to the commission:
               (1)  two remaining applicants from the majority
  subpool;
               (2)  two remaining applicants from the minority
  subpool; and
               (3)  two remaining applicants from the independent
  subpool.
         (b)  An appointment under Subsection (a) must be approved by
  at least five affirmative votes of commission members selected
  under Section 581.054, including at least two votes of commission
  members drawn from the majority subpool, at least two votes of
  commission members drawn from the minority subpool, and at least
  one vote of a commission member drawn from the independent subpool.
         (c)  In making appointments under Subsection (a), the
  commission members shall ensure that the commission reflects this
  state's diversity, including racial, ethnic, geographic, and
  gender diversity. However, the legislature does not intend that
  formulas or specific ratios be applied for this purpose.
         (d)  Appointments under Subsection (a) shall also be made
  based on relevant analytical skills and the ability to be
  impartial.
  SUBCHAPTER C. ORGANIZATION OF COMMISSION
         Sec. 581.101.  OFFICERS. The commission shall select one
  member as chair and one member as vice chair. The chair and vice
  chair may not both be majority party members, minority party
  members, or independent members as described by Section 28b(e),
  Article III, Texas Constitution.
         Sec. 581.102.  REMOVAL OF COMMISSION MEMBER. (a) After
  having been served written notice and provided with an opportunity
  for a response, a commission member may be removed by the governor
  with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the senate for
  substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or
  inability to discharge the duties of office.
         (b)  A commission member removed for substantial neglect of
  duty or gross misconduct in office may be referred to the attorney
  general for criminal investigation or to an appropriate
  administrative agency for investigation.
         Sec. 581.103.  VACANCY. (a) A vacancy on the commission
  that occurs before December 31 of a year ending in the numeral 2
  shall be filled, not later than the 30th day after the date the
  vacancy occurs, by appointment by the commission of a remaining
  applicant from the same applicant subpool as the vacating member.
         (b)  A vacancy on the commission that occurs on or after
  December 31 of a year ending in the numeral 2 shall be filled, not
  later than the 90th day after the date the vacancy occurs, by
  appointment by the commission of a remaining applicant from the
  same applicant subpool as the vacating member.
         (c)  If a vacancy on the commission occurs and no applicant
  from the same applicant subpool as the vacating member is available
  for appointment to the commission, the state auditor shall solicit
  and select an appropriate number of new applicants for the
  applicable subpool using, to the extent practicable, the procedures
  provided by Sections 581.051, 581.052, and 581.053(a)-(c) but
  disregarding the deadlines provided by those sections. The
  commission shall fill the vacancy as soon as practicable by
  appointment of one of the new applicants described by this
  subsection.
  SUBCHAPTER D. COMMISSION POWERS AND DUTIES
         Sec. 581.151.  OPEN MEETINGS. (a) The commission is a
  governmental body for purposes of Chapter 551.
         (b)  Notwithstanding Chapter 551, the secretary of state
  must post notice on the Internet of a meeting of the commission for
  at least:
               (1)  14 days before the date of a meeting, other than a
  meeting described by Subdivision (2); or
               (2)  three days before the date of a meeting held in
  August of a year following a census year.
         (c)  Except in a closed meeting authorized by Subchapter D,
  Chapter 551, a member or employee of the commission may not
  communicate with or knowingly receive communications about a
  redistricting matter from anyone outside of an open meeting.
         Sec. 581.152.  PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) The commission is a
  governmental body for purposes of Chapter 552.
         (b)  The commission shall post information relating to
  redistricting and all data considered by the commission in a manner
  that ensures immediate and widespread public access.
         Sec. 581.153.  EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS. (a) The
  commission may hire employees and hire or contract with legal
  counsel and consultants as needed in the manner provided by this
  section.
         (b)  The commission must make hiring, removal, or
  contracting decisions for employees, legal counsel, and
  consultants by the affirmative vote of at least nine members,
  including at least three majority party members, at least three
  minority party members, and at least three independent members as
  described by Section 28b(e), Article III, Texas Constitution.
         (c)  The commission shall ensure that at least one of the
  legal counsel hired by the commission has demonstrated extensive
  experience and expertise in implementing and enforcing the Voting
  Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Section 10101 et seq.).
         (d)  The commission shall establish for individuals
  described by Subsection (a):
               (1)  clear criteria for hiring and removal;
               (2)  communication protocols; and
               (3)  a code of conduct.
         (e)  To the extent practicable, the commission shall avoid
  selecting employees, legal counsel, or consultants who would be
  disqualified from commission membership because of a conflict of
  interest described by Section 581.052(a).
         Sec. 581.154.  PUBLIC OUTREACH. (a) The commission shall
  establish and implement an open hearing process for public input
  and deliberation that is subject to public notice and promoted
  through a thorough outreach program to solicit broad public
  participation in the redistricting public review process.
         (b)  The hearing process must include hearings to receive
  public input before the commission draws any maps and hearings
  following the drawing and display of any commission maps.  The
  commission shall hold at least one hearing in each senate district.  
  In addition, the commission shall supplement hearings with other
  appropriate activities to further increase opportunities for the
  public to observe and participate in the review process.  The
  commission shall broadcast live audio and video of each hearing on
  the commission's Internet website or using a comparable means of
  communicating with the public.  The commission shall provide public
  access to recorded audio and video of each hearing on the
  commission's Internet website or using a comparable means of
  communicating with the public for at least 10 years following the
  hearing.
         (c)  The commission shall display maps for public comment in
  a manner designed to achieve the widest public access reasonably
  possible.
         (d)  The commission shall publicly display preliminary maps
  for congressional, senate, and house of representatives districts
  not later than July 1 of each year following a census year and shall
  accept public comment for at least 14 days after the date the
  preliminary maps are first publicly displayed. The commission may
  not display any other maps for public comment during that 14-day
  period.
         (e)  The commission shall publicly display any subsequent
  version of a preliminary map for at least seven days and shall
  accept public comment for at least seven days after the date the
  subsequent version is first publicly displayed.
         (f)  The commission shall publicly display a final map for at
  least three days and shall accept public comment for at least three
  days after the date the final version is first publicly displayed.
         (g)  The commission shall maintain an Internet website or
  comparable means of communicating with the public through which any
  resident of this state may submit a proposed map, written comments,
  or both, without attending a commission hearing.
         Sec. 581.155.  PROCUREMENT AND CONTRACTING. The commission,
  with fiscal oversight from the comptroller, has procurement and
  contracting authority.
  SUBCHAPTER E. ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT AND OTHER RESOURCES
         Sec. 581.201.  ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT BY STATE AUDITOR.
  Following the appointment of new commission members in each census
  year, the state auditor shall provide administrative support to the
  commission until the commission's staff and office are fully
  functional.
         Sec. 581.202.  COMPUTER RESOURCES. The legislature shall
  ensure that a complete and accurate computerized database is
  available for redistricting and that procedures are in place to
  provide the public with ready access to redistricting data and
  computer software for drawing maps. The legislature shall
  coordinate these efforts with the commission from the time the
  commission is formed until the commission dissolves.
         Sec. 581.203.  PER DIEM AND EXPENSES. (a) A commission
  member is entitled to a per diem of $300 or the amount provided by
  Subsection (b) for each day the member is engaged in commission
  business.
         (b)  Beginning in 2030, on January 1 of each census year the
  per diem amount prescribed by Subsection (a) is increased or
  decreased by an amount equal to the amount prescribed by that
  subsection on December 31 of the preceding year multiplied by the
  percentage increase or decrease during the preceding decade in the
  Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), U.S. City
  Average, as published by the United States Bureau of Labor
  Statistics or its successor in function.
         (c)  A commission member is eligible for reimbursement of
  expenses incurred in connection with the member's performance of
  duties under this chapter and under Sections 28a, 28b, and 28c,
  Article III, Texas Constitution.
         (d)  For purposes of calculating expense reimbursement, a
  member's residence is considered to be the member's place of
  employment.
         SECTION 4.  Section 24.945(e), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (e)  The legislature, the Judicial Districts Board, or the
  Texas [Legislative] Redistricting Commission [Board] may not
  redistrict the judicial districts to provide for any judicial
  district smaller in size than an entire county except as provided by
  this subsection. Judicial districts smaller in size than the
  entire county may be created subsequent to a general election in
  which a majority of the persons voting on the proposition adopt the
  proposition "to allow the division of ____________________ County
  into judicial districts composed of parts of ____________________
  County." A redistricting plan may not be proposed or adopted by the
  legislature, the Judicial Districts Board, or the Texas
  [Legislative] Redistricting Commission [Board] in anticipation of
  a future action by the voters of any county.
         SECTION 5.  Section 24.946(a), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  The board shall meet in accordance with its own rules.
  The board shall meet at least once in each interim between regular
  sessions of the legislature and shall exercise its reapportionment
  powers only in the interims between regular legislative sessions.
  Meetings of the board shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter
  551, except as otherwise provided by this subchapter. A
  reapportionment may not be ordered in the interim immediately
  following a regular session of the legislature in which a valid and
  subsisting statewide reapportionment of judicial districts is
  enacted by the legislature. Unless the legislature enacts a
  statewide reapportionment of the judicial districts following each
  federal decennial census, the board shall convene not later than
  the first Monday of June of the third year following the year in
  which the federal decennial census is taken to make a statewide
  reapportionment of the districts. The board shall complete its
  work on the reapportionment and file its order with the secretary of
  state not later than August 31 of the same year. If the Judicial
  Districts Board fails to make a statewide apportionment by that
  date, the Texas [Legislative] Redistricting Commission [Board]
  established by Article III, Section 28b [28], of the Texas
  Constitution shall make a statewide reapportionment of the judicial
  districts not later than the 90th [150th] day after the final day
  for the Judicial Districts Board to make the reapportionment, and
  that apportionment takes effect as provided by Sections 24.948 and
  24.949.
         SECTION 6.  Section 2058.002(a), Government Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  The legislature or the Texas [Legislative]
  Redistricting Commission [Board] under Article III, Section 28b
  [28], of the Texas Constitution may officially recognize or act on a
  federal decennial census before September 1 of the year after the
  calendar year during which the census was taken.
         SECTION 7.  This Act takes effect January 1, 2029, but only
  if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 88th Legislature,
  Regular Session, 2023, establishing the Texas Redistricting
  Commission to redistrict the Texas Legislature and Texas
  congressional districts and revising procedures for redistricting
  is approved by the voters. If that amendment is not approved by the
  voters, this Act has no effect.