The California State Senate would be transformed under a long-shot proposal announced Wednesday by rural state Republicans who want a greater voice for their communities in Sacramento.
The Representation Equality Act would create eight culturally similar districts that would each have five senate seats. It would eliminate the Senate’s existing districts, all 40 of which are based on an equal population and largely dominated by Democrats from urban areas.
Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher represents rural northern Sacramento Valley and authored the amendment.
“These regions that we’re talking about feel that they don’t have as much of a voice and feel like they get overlooked in some of the policy,” Gallagher told Capital Public Radio. “It’s really about ensuring that all parts of this state have an equal place at the table.”
He said this revamped state Senate would serve as a check on the power in the Legislature of large metro areas, similar to the role of the U.S. Senate in Congress.
“That helps check what our founders called the tyranny of the majority,” Gallagher said. “There is a such thing as when you have really distinct majorities that can always overrule and overpower in this case the rest of the state.”
The proposal would require an amendment to the state’s constitution, meaning it would need two-thirds approval from both houses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature and support from state voters.
No Democrats are backing the proposal.