February 1, 2019:
Senators Mark Moores (R-Bernalillo) and Bill Tallman (D-Bernalillo) have filed Senate Bill 416, the Redistricting Act, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. The bill defines the process for redistricting after the 2020 census.
This bill has been adapted for New Mexico from the highly praised Iowa redistricting model. SB416 is a statute, not a constitutional amendment. "It is time for the policymakers in to step up and pass SB416. The Redistricting Act will enable constituents to choose their legislators instead of continuing to let the legislators choose their constituents", said NM League of Women Voters President Judy Williams. "In 2020 the League of Women Voters celebrates its 100th anniversary and we can think of no better anniversary gift than a clean and fair redistricting process."
In 1970, the League of Women Voters of Iowa along with the ACLU and others sued to challenge the state's redistricting process. As settlement for that suit, Iowa passed what has become known as the Iowa model. It has been used successfully over the last four redistricting processes in Iowa without the lawsuits and rancor that have plagued New Mexico and other states.
In fact, in the last round of redistricting Iowa passed its redistricting plan in April 2011; the plan in New Mexico was only settled in late February 2012 - shortly before the filing deadlines for candidates. This plan came only after New Mexico spent $5 million in legal expenses defending the various lawsuits.
In SB 416, legislative staff draw maps, following federal guidelines and those detailed in the legislation, and present them to the Legislature. That body can vote the maps up or down. On the third round, they can amend the maps. If this amendment is not approved, the courts draw the maps.
Since 2011 many states have passed constitutional amendments and statutes cleaning up their redistricting processes; those that haven't have faced expensive lawsuits--- some brought by the League, some of which have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court. "We want to thank Senators Moores and Tallman for bringing this legislation forward," said Williams.