WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Saturday, Oct. 7, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed three bills aimed at curbing gerrymandering in the state, while vetoing two others. One of the now-vetoed bills would have established an independent redistricting commission in Los Angeles, the most populous city in the state and the second-most populous city in the country.
The progressive redistricting reforms Newsom signed include:
- Assembly Bill 34, which establishes an independent redistricting commission responsible for drawing the district lines of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
- Senate Bill 314, which establishes an independent redistricting commission responsible for drawing the district lines of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
- Assembly Bill 764, which implements a handful of redistricting reforms targeting local redistricting throughout the state. The legislation prohibits gerrymandering meant to protect incumbents, sets minimum standards of transparency and accessibility in the redistricting process, creates a process to address claims of redistricting violations and establishes uniform redistricting requirements and more. California Common Cause, ACLU California Action and other progressive groups support the legislation.
The two redistricting reforms Newsom vetoed include:
- Assembly Bill 1248, which would have required counties and cities with populations over 300,000, or a school district or community college district with a population over 500,000, to establish an independent redistricting commission by 2030 and
- Senate Bill 52, which would have required a charter city with a population of 2.5 million people or more to establish an independent redistricting commission if the city’s charter has not already established a compliant independent redistricting commission. Los Angeles is the only city that would have met the population threshold.
In a letter vetoing A.B. 1248, Newsom wrote that while he shared the author’s goal of ensuring community control over the redistricting process, he was concerned about the cost the state could incur in implementing the bill. Newsom further suggested the legislation should be considered in the annual budget process.
Newsom also wrote a letter explaining his veto of S.B. 52, reasoning that although he agreed with the goal of the proposal, the bill was contingent on the enactment of A.B. 1248 and he therefore could not sign S.B. 52.
Los Angeles’ city council members came under intense criticism in October 2022, when a phone conversation about redistricting filled with racist language involving then Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez (D) and Councilmen Kevin de León (D) and Gil Cedillo (D) was leaked. The conversation focused in part on how the group could change district lines to benefit Latino officials.
The egregious and racist remarks prompted immediate calls for resignations, but also sparked concern that the redistricting process could have been corrupted. Martinez resigned, while the two councilmen did not. Cedillo is no longer in office after losing his election, while de León is still on the city council. California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) announced an investigation into Los Angeles redistricting shortly after the leak.