Los Angeles County announced Tuesday it is suing the state in an effort to quash a new law that places the task of re-drawing the county’s supervisorial districts in the hands of a 14-member citizens committee.
The county’s complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday, seeks an order declaring that the law created by State Senate Bill 958 last year is unconstitutional. It also seeks a permanent injunction barring its implementation, a statement said.
“The county contends that the law is patently unworkable and unconstitutional. It is being unfairly and unnecessarily forced on the residents of Los Angeles County and over the objections of their duly elected representatives,” it said.
“Specifically, the new law violates two sections of the State Constitution, one that prohibits the legislature from imposing special laws on particular counties (Article IV, Section 16); the other requires county offices to be nonpartisan (Article II, Section 6). SB 958 also contradicts the voter- approved County Charter, which assigns the job of re-districting to the Board of Supervisors.”
Bell Gardens Democratic senator Ricardo Lara authored SB 958, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2016 and applies only to L.A. County.
The county statement says the new law creates a commission whose membership is based on political party registration, which discriminates against independent voters, who make up 25 percent of registered voters in the county — more than 1 million in total. The new 14-member Citizen Redistricting Committee is to be responsible for creating County Supervisor district boundaries after each U.S. Census every 10 years.
Based on current registration numbers, 70 percent of the commission members would be Democrats, 25 percent Republicans, and 5 percent would be from smaller parties, the statement said. Voters who registered without a party preference — the fastest-growing segment of newly registered voters — will not be given equal consideration, it warned.
“…This new law imposes on the citizens of Los Angeles County an experimental system to select a citizen redistricting commission based on luck and chance, not proper public deliberation. County voters cannot change the law if they are dissatisfied,” the statement said.
“By contrast, the last apportionment, which was based on the 2010 Census, included extensive input from County voters and was never challenged in court.”
Lara responded to the suit, saying Tuesday morning that he finds it surprising that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors “would go to court to oppose a law that recognizes Los Angeles’s diversity and promotes transparency in a county whose population is larger than that of 40 states.
If the citizens redistricting commission is good enough for the state Legislature and Congress it should be good enough for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.”
—City News Service
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