Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s ethics advisory panel today endorsed creation of an independent commission to redraw legislative districts without regard to partisan politics. The Virginia General Assembly currently draws districts, and convincing legislators there’s a better way won’t be easy. The ethics panel is “not naive enough to think that whatever we recommend is going to be enthusiastically received by members of the General Assembly,” said former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a co-chairman. “But it is an issue that we need to keep front and center.” The Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government was created in September after the conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on public corruption charges. Bolling, a Republican, is joined by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher in leading the 10-member panel.
Members today recommended that the General Assembly in its 2015 session approve a constitutional amendment that would create a commission to redraw districts. The recommendation is part of a broader set of ethics reform proposals, and the ethics panel will continue to meet next year on topics that include campaign finance reform.
The General Assembly convenes on Jan. 14. A constitutional amendment would need two General Assembly readings followed by voter approval.
As proposed by McAuliffe’s ethics panel, the five-member redistricting commission would consist of two leaders from each party and a fifth member that all four would then choose. Should they fail to agree, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court would appoint the fifth.