An update on redistricting reform in Pennsylvania – April, 2019
Gerrymandering – the process of manipulating the boundaries of political districts to favor one party or group of people – disenfranchises voters. In Pennsylvania, our elected representatives have the power to draw district maps. They get to choose who their voters will be – when it should be the other way around.
Lots of organizations, advocates, and people throughout the state are determined to change this. PUMP is an endorsing organization of Fair Districts PA and a steering committee member of Draw the Lines PA. We are advocates for an independent citizens redistricting commission.
Read on to learn about the latest gerrymandering news and get involved.
A quick re-cap:
In 2018, we saw momentum around several anti-gerrymandering efforts:
- The PA Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional congressional map
- Proposed statewide legislation to reform redistricting, advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the issue
- Governor Wolf’s Executive Order to establish a Bipartisan Redistricting Reform Commission
Fair Districts PA and supporting organizations, including PUMP, lobbied for the passage of two bills that would have established an independent citizens redistricting commission. But after weeks of back and forth and last minute amendments, the bills ultimately did not pass during the 2017-2018 legislative session.
Where things stand now: Legislative reform strategies
House Bills 22 and 23:
Fair Districts PA currently supports two bills, which were introduced in the PA House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. House Bill 22 (sponsored by Rep. Tom Murt – R) and House Bill 23 (sponsored by Rep. Steve Samuelson – D) would put a citizens redistricting commission in place in time for the 2021 redistricting.
As FDPA explains, the bills “provide for open hearings and public input, safeguard against partisan influence and fix both redistricting processes – legislative and congressional.”
Senate Bill 22:
An alternate strategy for addressing gerrymandering is Senate Bill 22. Recently, Senators Boscola and Folmer reintroduced a version of last year’s Senate Bill 22. However, the bill as written could not be implemented until 2030 – a solution that fails to address the urgency of partisan gerrymandering and its harm on the Commonwealth.
The Senate State Government Committee approved SB 22. Fair Districts PA and many other advocates do not support SB 22 as it currently stands. However, Majority and Minority Committee Chairs Senators Folmer and Williams, as well as SB 22’s prime sponsor, Senator Boscola, are committed to working on amending the bill when it comes to a senate vote to address some of the concerns.
Ways to get involved:
- Share your feedback: The Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission has begun a statewide listening tour. Attend an event and/or submit feedback online to share your perspective on gerrymandering.
- Draw your own map: Draw the Lines PA is in the midst of its second citizens mapping competition. Through the contest, you can draw your own legislative map for Pennsylvania using professional software to enter into the competition to win cash prizes and to present to your representatives as an alternative to the current gerrymandered maps in Pennsylvania.
- Follow Fair Districts PA on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on redistricting reform legislation