Historic Anti-Gerrymandering Bills Head to Newsom’s Desk

AB 764 and AB 1248 will help end gerrymandering in California and bring independent redistricting to local communities

SACRAMENTO – A pair of statewide redistricting reform bills sponsored by California Common Cause and partners passed the State Legislature on Wednesday, September 13, and now head to Governor Newsom’s desk to be signed into law. The bills would help end gerrymandering in cities, counties, and school districts across the Golden State.

Backed by a wide range of civil rights, good government, and community organizations that engaged in the 2020 local redistricting cycle, AB 764 (Bryan) and AB 1248 (Bryan and Allen) would empower communities in the redistricting process. If signed, the bills will ban incumbency-protection gerrymandering, strengthen transparency and public participation requirements in the local redistricting process, and establish independent redistricting commissions for larger local jurisdictions.

“By passing these bills, California would make history as the first state to require widespread independent redistricting,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, California Common Cause’s Executive Director. “We led the nation in establishing the first truly independent redistricting commission at the state level. Now we are taking that proven model to our local communities.”

AB 764 strengthens and expands 2019’s FAIR MAPS Act (FMA), which requires cities and counties to use standardized, fair redistricting criteria that prioritize communities when drawing district lines and institutes a number of transparency and public participation requirements. AB 764 strengthens the FMA’s redistricting criteria, public engagement requirements, and transparency measures, and would extend its provisions to additional local governments, like school boards. Critically, the bill would also prohibit incumbent-protection gerrymandering at the local level, a problem that a recent report, “The Promise of Fair Maps,” found to be endemic across California. 

Under AB 1248, counties and cities with a population over 300,000 people, and school districts and community college districts with a population over 500,000 people, would be required to establish an independent redistricting commission before the 2030 redistricting cycle. If they do not act on their own to design and establish a commission that meets basic requirements in state law, they would be required to utilize a more detailed default commission structure outlined in state law.

“AB 764 and AB 1248 are proven, long-term solutions that will help end gerrymandering in our state and will help build a democracy that works for everyone,” said Laurel Brodzinsky, California Common Cause’s Legislative Director. “By reforming local redistricting, we’re putting power back in the hands of regular Californians.”

AB 764 is sponsored by California Common Cause, ACLU California Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, and the League of Women Voters of California.

AB 1248 is sponsored by California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Southern California.