Information about current issues of concern to all Pennsylvanians. REDISTRICTING
REMINDER: The recent court decision on redistricting is a TEMPORARY FIX and only applies to the US Congressional Districts.
CITIZEN ACTION NEEDED AS LEGISLATION IS CONSIDERED. See below for legislative update.
The Issue: According to the PA House legislative proposal for HB 722, April 2017, "According to a recent study by the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), Pennsylvania ranks third worst in the nation for the fairness of its electoral boundaries -- only Wisconsin and North Carolina scored worse. When politicians manipulate district lines to benefit themselves and their parties, the public always loses."
In order to change the current process, citizens need to vote to amend the State Constitution. This is what has to happen:
By July 2018: PA House and Senate must agree on a bill and pass it.
By August 2020: BOTH Houses must approve the same bill AGAIN in the next legislative session which starts January 2019. This deadline provides the required three-month window for advertising the bill before the November 2020 General Election.
Fair Districts PA is a nonpartisan, citizen-led statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair. For complete coverage of the effort, visit <http://www.fairdistrictspa.com>.
Fair Districts is holding informational meetings across the state.
Suggestions for citizen action are listed on the website.
A number of PA municipalities have passed resolutions supporting the effort to make redistricting fair.
THE BIG IDEA. Both the House and Senate seek to agree on a bill to amend the State Constitution in order to change the current process of redistricting from a partisan system to a nonpartisan process. Senate and House bills have bipartisan cosponsors.
IN THE SENATE: Senate Bill 22 is out of committee and on the floor for debate. The bill would amend the State Constitution, setting up an independent 11-member commission to manage the reapportionment and redistricting process for the PA General Assembly and for Congress. SB22 proposes that commission members include three members who are not registered in either of the two largest political parties, two nominees each from the four legislative caucuses with a 2/3 vote of approval from their respective chambers. No commission member can have held an elected or appointed federal or state office in the preceding five years.
IN THE HOUSE: HB722 and HB563 have been gutted and replaced. "Although it is still possible to advance the bills and try to amend it on the floor back to the original language, it is not considered the best move. David Reed, House Majority Leader (62nd Legislative District, Indiana County), has been working on his own reform package that some of the Republicans seem to be more receptive to." Fair Districts (and we) are waiting to see what happens next.
The process for each bill is the same. The bill needs to be scheduled for action and the committee majority needs to approve it so it can move to the floor for consideration, possible amendment and a vote. Whichever bill moves first, it will supersede the other.
For more information on these bills go to <http://www.legis.state.pa.us>.