|Posted:||May 25, 2017 04:39 PM|
|From:||Senator Jay Costa|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Congressional Redistricting Reform|
|Currently, there is no open process prescribed by the state Constitution for congressional redistricting in Pennsylvania. While the Pennsylvania Constitution prescribes the criteria and procedure for legislative redistricting in Article II, sections 16 and 17, it is silent as to any procedure by which congressional districts must be drawn. As such, congressional districts are established by an act of the General Assembly subject to gubernatorial veto similar to ordinary legislation.
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to finally require an open, public process and create an independent commission for establishing the commonwealth’s congressional districts beginning after the next federal decennial census in 2020. The commission would consist of five members – two registered Democrats, two registered Republicans and one individual not registered with either party. Interested applicants would be vetted by the secretary of the commonwealth to ensure they meet minimum qualifications and randomly selected for appointment to the commission. My legislation would prohibit a person from being a member if he or she:
The commission would be required to hold at least six public hearings before it adopts a preliminary plan and another hearing before it adopts a final plan, and follow specific deadlines for the adoption and advertisement of each plan. If it does not adopt a final plan by December 15 in the year following the census, the secretary will petition the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to appoint a special master to draw it.
My legislation would also require congressional districts to be established on the basis of population, comply with federal constitutional law and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, be equal in population, respect geographic integrity of counties and municipalities, be geographically contiguous, encourage geographic compactness, and split as few political subdivisions as possible.
Please join me in requiring our congressional redistricting process to abide by specific procedures in an open, public process by co-sponsoring this legislation.
Introduced as SB767