Reviving redistricting reform in California

The past couple of days have seen a flurry of reports coming out of Sacramento, both in the press and in private, indicating that Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature may be close to a deal that could push a redistricting reform bill out of the legislature in time for it to be put on California’s November ballot.

The basics of the deal have been debated from some time, the change in the past couple of weeks have been the public signals from the Governor that he will support the deal (here’s a link to the most recent story from the Los Angeles Times on the negotiations).

The deal is going to involve moving the current redistricting proposal now under consideration in the legislature, sponsored by Senator Lowenthal, that relies upon an eleven person citizens commission to undertake new redistricting, through the process and onto the November ballot. In exchange, the Governor now appears ready to support term limits reform, something that the legislators in Sacramento obviously want (though it is unclear whether voters will support changing California’s existing term limits law). The legislators are debating various term limits changes, with the current favorite being a proposal that would allow an individual to serve twelve years in either branch of the legislature.

There will be more to come on this deal in the next few weeks. As I wrote about earlier this week, there aren’t many states with election reform on the ballot this fall. It will be interesting to see what happens in California, and if voters will support this new redistricting approach if it makes it to the ballot this fall, right after strongly opposing another redistricting measure (sponsored by the Governor and opposed by Democrats) in the recent special election. Stay tuned.