Senate 01.jpg

Angelique Ashby

A state bill that would create an independent redistricting commission in Sacramento County has passed the state Senate and will now be considered by the Assembly.

Senate Bill (SB) 314, authored by state Sen. Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento, passed on May 20 on a party-line vote, with seven of the Senate Republicans voting against; the eighth Republican was absent.

Ashby introduced the bill in response to the county’s redistricting based on the 2020 census, a process that she said inadequately represented marginalized groups, especially Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and the LGBTQ+ community.

“Many groups felt their voices were silenced, or their communities were split between districts,” Ashby said during floor debate.

Ashby noted that the supervisors were able to choose the final district lines, and she said independent redistricting commissions are “more transparent, promote more public participation and draw maps that are more reflective of the community.”

State Sen. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, came forward to voice “reluctant opposition” to the bill, saying that he is open to the concept of a redistricting commission but cited “concerns stated by the county of Sacramento” regarding SB 314. Niello, whose district includes Galt, urged the Senate not to pass the bill and promised to work with Ashby on the issues he saw.

In her final statement before the vote, Ashby noted that her bill still has several votes to pass before becoming law, adding that she would work on it with Niello.

SB 314 has received formal support from AAPIs for Civic Empowerment, California Environmental Voters, Organize Sacramento and Queer Democrats of Sacramento.

A lobbyist firm opposes the bill because it disqualifies a person, as well as their immediate family, from serving on the commission if they have worked as a lobbyist in the past decade. The same restrictions would apply to candidates, elected officials and appointees representing Sacramento County, and to their employees and consultants.