Michigan legislators cannot write rules for an independent restricting commission without violating the constitutional amendment approved by voters last month, organizers of the ballot initiative argued Tuesday. A Republican proposal advanced by the Senate Government Operations Committee is unconstitutional and a “direct attack on the will of the voters,” said Nancy Wang, president of the Voters Not Politicians committee. The more than 2.5 million voters who approved the anti-gerrymandering measure “took the extraordinary step of amending our state constitution specifically to take politicians out of the redistricting process — period,” Wang told lawmakers.
Sponsoring Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said his legislation does not revise the constitutional amendment, which would require another vote of the people. Instead, it would create a new law to build “safeguards to ensure the integrity of the independent redistricting commission,” which must include four Democrats, four Republicans and five independent members.
The legislation would define how the Michigan secretary of state should determine the partisan affiliation of applicants to the bipartisan commission, which is empowered, instead of lawmakers, to draw new political boundaries after the 2020 Census.
The bill proposes a fine of $500 for lying about partisan affiliation and would prohibit the commission from using contractors with ties to either major political party.