FW: Census 2000 Initiative News Alert

Beverly Railsback brailsback at NJSTATELIB.ORG
Tue Jul 25 14:09:50 EDT 2000


Beverly Railsback
Documents Librarian
N.J. State Library
185 W. State Street
P.O. Box 520
Trenton, N.J. 08625-0520
609-292-6259 Phone
609-984-7900 Fax
brailsback at njstatelib.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Gage, Linda [mailto:FILGAGE at DOF.CA.GOV]
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2000 2:14 PM
Subject: Census 2000 Initiative News Alert

July 25, 2000


Justice Department Withholds Judgment
On Alaska Anti-Sampling Redistricting Law;
Continues to Spar with Virginia Over Similar Measure

Plus: Census Funding Bill Clears Senate Committee;
Senate Confirms Mineta To Be Commerce Secretary;
Update on Census Operations

The U.S. Department of Justice has notified Alaska state officials that it
cannot determine, until Census 2000 data are available, whether a change to
the state Constitution and a related provision of law violate the federal
Voting Rights Act.  "[U]ntil the Alaska block-level 2000 census data are
released," wrote Joseph D. Rich, Acting Chief of the Voting Section, "we
cannot properly evaluate the effect of the proposed limitations in HJR 44
and SB 99 on the political participation opportunities of Alaska's minority
voters in future legislative redistricting plans."

The July 7th letter to Alaska Assistant Attorney General James L. Baldwin is
the latest step in the 'preclearance' process required by section 5 of the
1965 Voting Rights Act; Alaska is one of 16 states with a history of
election-related discrimination covered by section 5.  Last summer, state
officials asked the Justice Department to sign off on two new measures that,
in relevant part, prohibit the use of statistically adjusted numbers to
redraw legislative district boundaries following the census.  A provision of
House Joint Resolution No. 44, enacted in 1998, amends the Alaska
Constitution to require the use of official decennial census data by the
state's Redistricting Board.  A provision of Senate Bill 99 (Chapter 18),
enacted in 1999, defines "official" census data as the population numbers
used for congressional apportionment, which the Supreme Court ruled cannot
be derived through sampling methods under federal law.  The two provisions
limiting the type of census data that may be used for redistricting cannot
take effect without Justice Department approval.  The Census Bureau is
required by law to transmit detailed population figures to the states by
April 1, 2001, for use in the redistricting process.

The State of Virginia, also covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,
continued to seek quick approval from a federal court for a law enacted last
spring that bars the use of statistically corrected population data for
congressional and state legislative redistricting.  Bypassing the Justice
Department's preclearance process, Virginia asked the U.S. District Court
for the District of Columbia in April to rule that the law complies with the
Voting Right Act.  The department subsequently asked the three-judge panel
to delay consideration of the case until 2000 census data are released.  In
addition, ten Democratic state legislators and the American Civil Liberties
Union, all of who oppose the new law, filed requests to intervene in the


Earlier this month, in response to the proposals to delay a judicial
decision, Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley asked the district court
to rule expeditiously in favor of the new law.  The motion for summary
judgment notes that the state is one of a handful to hold odd-year
elections, leaving little time after block-level census data are released in
2001 to draw new legislative districts.

Census Bureau appropriations update: The Senate Appropriations Committee
unanimously approved a funding bill that includes money for the decennial
census and other Census Bureau programs in fiscal year 2001.  The Commerce,
Justice, and State, The Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations bill
(not yet numbered) cleared the panel on July 18; the House of
Representatives passed its version of the measure (H.R. 4690) on June 26.
The full Senate is likely to consider the bill this week before adjourning
for the traditional August recess.

The Senate bill includes $389.7 million for Census 2000 activities, about $3
million less than the Clinton Administration's request of $392.8 million
(but about $300,000 more than the House bill) to close down local census
offices and data processing centers, finish the Accuracy and Coverage
Evaluation (A.C.E.) program, and tabulate and disseminate data collected in
the census.  In their report explaining the bill's provisions, the
appropriators directed the Census Bureau, in concert with the State
Department, to count private American citizens living abroad "in future
censuses when appropriate."

The bill allocates $21.6 million for continued development of the American
Community Survey (ACS), less than the $25 million the Administration
requested but more than the House-approved $20 million.  (Funding for the
ACS falls under the 'continuous measurement' category.)  If fully
implemented in 2003, the ACS could eliminate the need for a traditional
'long form' in the 2010 census by gathering data on housing, most population
characteristics, commuting patterns, and economic status from a rolling
annual sample of three million households throughout the decade.  (The House
Subcommittee on the Census held a hearing on July 20 to review the Census
Bureau's plans for the American Community Survey.  The Census 2000
Initiative will report on the highlights of this in-depth oversight hearing
in a future News Alert.)

Overall, Senate appropriators came closer than their House counterparts to
meeting the Administration's request of $719.2 million for the Census Bureau
in the fiscal year starting October 1, 2000.  The Salaries and Expenses
('S&E') account, one of the Bureau's two broad funding categories, received
$158.4 million for ongoing surveys of the population and economy, $18.4
million more than the House allocation but $15.4 million short of the
requested $173.8 million.  The Senate committee provided funds to develop a
new measure of electronic business (part of the Commerce Department's
'E-Commerce' Initiative) and to survey minority-owned businesses more
frequently.  The Periodic Censuses and Programs ('Periodics') account, which
covers activities related to the decennial census and other cyclical
programs, received $535.2 million, $5.6 million more than the House figure
but $10.2 million below the budget request.  For all Census Bureau
activities, the Senate appropriations committee bill falls $25.6 million
short of the Administration's request, while the House-passed version is
$51.8 million below the request.

Following Senate passage of the Commerce spending measure, each chamber will
appoint members to a conference committee that will iron out differences
between the two versions of the bill.

Mineta nomination moving through Senate: Former California Rep. Norman
Mineta became the first Asian American to serve in a cabinet position after
the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination to be Secretary of Commerce.  The
Senate approved the nomination by voice vote and without debate on July 20,
after the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation endorsed
President Clinton's pick to succeed William Daley earlier in the day.  Mr.
Daley resigned from his post last month to head up Vice President Gore's
presidential campaign.  The Census Bureau is an agency of the Commerce

Secretary Mineta represented the San Jose area in Congress for 20 years
before resigning in 1995 to take a senior executive post with Lockheed
Martin Corporation.  He was active in policy debates during the 1990 census,
opposing efforts to exclude undocumented residents from the state population
totals used for congressional apportionment and supporting the collection of
detailed data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Census 2000 operations update: Census 2000 counting activities continue
across the country, as census takers gather information from homes built
after the pre-census address listing effort ended last fall and revisit
housing units identified as vacant or nonexistent in earlier operations.  A
separate group of more seasoned enumerators is completing interviews of
314,000 households in the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.) survey,
to check the quality of the direct counting effort and provide a basis for
correcting under- and overcounts using statistical methods.

The Census Bureau also decided to recount households in several areas where
they believe some census takers cut corners to finish their nonresponse
follow-up caseloads, possibly at the urging of local census managers.
Enumerators are revisiting about 9,000 households in Chicago and 71,000
households in Hialeah, Florida.  Bureau officials said they ordered the
recounts after learning that census takers might have sought information
from neighbors or other surrogate sources of information before making six
attempts (three in person and three by telephone) to contact the residents
of a household, as required by census rules.

Stakeholder activities: The Census Bureau's advisory committees will meet
jointly on Friday, July 28, to review the American Community Survey,
planning for the 2010 census, and the status of Census 2000 operations.  The
committees include the five panels focused on racial and ethnic populations,
the professional association representatives, and the Commerce Secretary's
2000 Census Advisory Committee.  The meeting will be held at the Doubletree
Hotel, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.; it is
open to the public.

Questions about the information contained in this News Alert may be directed
to Terri Ann Lowenthal at 202/484-2270 or, by e-mail at terriann2k at aol.com.
For copies of previous News Alerts and other information, use our web site
www.census2000.org <http://www.census2000.org>.  Please direct all requests
to receive News Alerts, and all changes in address/phone/fax/e-mail, to the
Census 2000 Initiative at Census2000 at ccmc.org or 202/326-8700. Please feel
free to circulate this information to colleagues and other interested

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