Senate Bill 27
151st General Assembly (Present)
Senate Executive 1/12/21
Awaiting consideration in Committee
AN ACT PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE II OF THE DELAWARE CONSTITUTION RELATING TO THE COMPOSITION OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
This Act is the first leg of a constitutional amendment that repeals the provisions regarding legislative districts that were found unconstitutional in the 1960s by the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Sections 2 and 2A of Article II of the Delaware Constitution are unconstitutional because these sections do not apportion seats in the General Assembly so that each vote is equal. This constitutional amendment also repeals § 2B of Article II of the Delaware Constitution because the only purpose of § 2B is to clarify that § 2A of Article II does not impact how delegates are elected to a Constitutional Convention under § 2 of Article II. This Act replaces the unconstitutional provisions with the existing redistricting requirements established under Chapter 8 of Title 29, which meet the requirements under the Constitution of the United States. Specifically, the requirements for legislative districts are as follows: 1. The House of Representatives is comprised of 41 members, chosen for 2-year terms. 2. The Senate is comprised of 21 members, chosen for 4-year terms, except that terms are staggered at the first biennial general election following redistricting so that 10 Senators are elected for 2-year terms and 11 Senators are elected for 4-year terms. 3. The General Assembly must determine the boundaries of legislative districts using the following criteria: contiguous territory; nearly equal in population; bounded by major roads, streams, or other natural boundaries; and do not unduly favor any person or political party. 4. The General Assembly must redistrict whenever necessary after each federal decennial census. This Act also repeals the obsolete process in the Constitution that has the Governor and chairs of 2 political parties conduct the redistricting. Current law does not provide a specific process by which the General Assembly redistricts legislative districts, so this Act provides the General Assembly with the power to enact general laws establishing rules and procedures for redistricting. This Act requires a greater than majority vote for passage because § 1 of Article XVI of the Delaware Constitution requires the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly to amend the Delaware Constitution. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
A First Leg amendment must be approved by the next General Assembly to become part of the Constitution. A Second Leg amendment becomes part of the Constitution upon passage of both Chambers of the subsequent General Assembly.