On Tuesday, it was reported that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed S.B. 304, a bill establishing an independent redistricting commission comprised of seven members comprised of all three major parties (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian) and Declined to State.
The commission will hold at least twelve public meetings to gather input and draft three potential district maps for U.S. Congress, Public Education Commission, and state House and Senate districts. S.B. 304 prohibits plans that favor one political party or incumbent in the map-drawing process, with the requirement that public input is included in the new plans.
The bipartisan bill brought forth originally in another form by Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Grant, Hidalgo & Sierra) and Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Bernalillo) was passed with much opposition from Democrat Speaker of the House Brian Egolf and others who wanted much more partisan control over the redistricting process.
Previously on a Zoom call with a left-wing group, Retake Our Democracy, Egolf blasted the idea of an independent redistricting commission, saying, “I think that it puts at unacceptable peril a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, fairness in taxation.” He added, “It puts at tremendous peril all of the progressive causes that we care about.”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Speaker Egolf continually whined about Republicans “casting aspersions” that he did not want a fair redistricting process, demanding an apology from Republicans, including GOP Leader Jim Townsend (R-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero). He did not end up getting one, as Egolf has constantly worked to favor Democrats in the redistricting process and only recently joined Sen. Ivey-Soto’s last-ditch redistricting bill to install a more political way of redrawing district maps. After the meeting, Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval & Santa Fe) wrote, “We will NEVER apologize for standing up for the people of New Mexico!”
During House floor consideration of the bill, the measure passed 64-2 with Rep. Eliseo Alcon (D-Cibola & McKinley) and Majority Leader Sheryl Stapleton (D-Bernalillo) voting against it.
The newly enacted law aims to take redistricting away from the dark rooms of the Roundhouse and opens it up to the public in a fair, less partisan way, despite opposition from Democrats.