Rhode Island

Overview

Rhode Island Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

Congressional and legislative maps are enacted by the State General Assembly. The Governor can veto the plans.

The General Assembly can override a veto with a three-fifths vote. Democrats currently have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Rhode Island is projected to become an at-large state following the 2020 reapportionment and will therefore have only one congressional seat.

The Rhode Island Special Commission on Reapportionment forms if the General Assembly cannot enact a plan. For the 18-member commission, the Speaker of the House selects four members from within the House, the Minority Leader of the House selects two from within the House, the President of the Senate selects four members from within the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate selects two members from within the Senate, and the two majority leaders of each branch of the General Assembly each name three members from the general populace.

The Commission submits a reapportionment act to the General Assembly no later than January 15 of a year ending in two. This act must include maps for the Rhode Island General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. The Commission’s proceedings are subject to state open meeting and public access laws. The Commission must conduct public hearings prior to the issuance of its findings and recommendations, and members of the public must have access to the technical software used for district mapping in a location determined by the State House during reasonable business hours.

Source: R.I. Const. art. VII, VIII. 2011 R.I. Pub. Laws § 106 (2011).


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanH 7209; S 2178
      • Passed = February 2, 2012 (D-controlled)
      • Signed = February 8, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • None
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansH 7209; S 2178
      • Passed = February 2, 2012 (D-controlled)
      • Signed = February 8, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • Puyana v. State of Rhode Island, C.A. No. PC12-1272 (R.I. Super. Ct. May 28, 2013): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s enacted state House plan as unconstitutional, and on May 23, 2013, a Rhode Island Superior Court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, thereby upholding the plan.

2000

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanH 7056
      • Enacted = February 20, 2002 (D-controlled)
    • Revised PlanH 7725A
      • Enacted = June 28, 2002 (D-controlled)
    • Litigation History
      • None
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansH 7056
      • Enacted = February 20, 2002 (D-controlled)
    • Revised Senate PlanS 3137
      • Enacted = June 4, 2004 (D-controlled)
    • Litigation History
      • Metts v. Murphy, 363 F.3d 8 (1st Cir. 2004): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s 2002 state Senate plan as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The district court had initially dismissed the complaint on the grounds the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the preconditions necessary for a Section 2 claim, but on March 30, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings to allow for a fuller development of the evidence and legal analysis thereon. While the case was pending on remand, the General Assembly enacted a revised state Senate Plan (S 3137) on June 4, 2004.
      • Parella v. Montalbano, 899 A.2d 1226 (R.I. 2006): Plaintiffs challenged the General Assembly’s enacted state Senate plan as violating the Rhode Island Constitution’s Compactness Clause. On June 6, 2006, the state Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling upholding the plan as constitutional.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Only the Rhode Island General Assembly may refer amendments to the ballot. There is no initiative or referendum process.

Source: R.I. Const. art. XIV.


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