Redistricting Fizzles

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[UPDATE, 3:38 pm: Well, who knows... the back and forth apparently isn't over. There is talk the Senate may still take up SCA 3 by Sen. Lowenthal tomorrow, though it would take 27 of the Senate's 40 votes to be sent to the Assembly. There's talk the joint statement was mainly a death knell for the combo of redistricting and term limits... but even a just released statement from the governor seemed to admit that redistricting is dead. Stay tuned.--JM]

It looks as though legislative efforts to change the process of political map drawing in California are over for this year-- according to a joint statement just released by the Legislature's four leaders.

Over the last week, a special conference committee has debated ways to remove the power of redistricting from the hands of the Legislature, and to place it instead in the hands of an independent citizens committee. The discussion also considered a possible revision to the state's 16 year-old term limits law, as kind of a 'one-two' government reform package.

But the talks apparently went nowhere. The issue of term limits may have made the discussions that much more thorny-- given the public's strong approval of the law-- but the specifics of a redistricting proposal were also heavily criticized. Who would appoint the citizens panel, said the critics? Judges? If so, how would the judges be chosen? And how would the proposal differ from last year's failed Proposition 77? Some redistricting reform advocates offered other versions of picking a panel in this weekend's special hearing. But that, too, failed to attract support.

This afternoon, the four leaders jointly declared their efforts DOA.

Their statement, in part, says that, "given the tremendous impact any proposal crafted by the Legislature this year could have on politics and policymaking in our state, we feel it is the best course not to pursue a sweeping reform package in the waning hours of the legislative session."

The statement goes on to say that there is support to rekindle the conversation once the new Legislature convenes in January. But the end of this year's effort is undoubtedly a blow to the many groups that had pushed for redistricting changes, for the author of this year's most well-known proposal, Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), and for Governor Schwarzenegger, who had personally lobbied for the cause over the past few days.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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