|Posted:||February 22, 2019 04:41 PM|
|From:||Representative Thomas P. Murt and Rep. Steve Samuelson|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Redistricting Reform Constitutional Amendment (House Bill 22)|
|In the near future, we will be introducing a proposed constitutional amendment to reform the current processes by which Pennsylvania conducts the decennial redistricting of both congressional and state legislative districts (House and Senate).
This bill is similar in many ways to HB 722 from the 2017-18 session, which was introduced by Representative Samuelson and co-sponsored by more than half of all House members. We will also be introducing a companion bill (HB 23) as implementing legislation for the proposed constitutional amendment. Both bills have been endorsed by various stakeholders, including Fair Districts PA, a non-partisan coalition of advocacy groups seeking to end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.
Our proposal would create an 11-member Independent Redistricting Commission to replace the existing Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which consists of four legislative leaders plus a Chairman who is usually appointed by the state Supreme Court. Instead, our legislation would have House and Senate district lines drawn by a randomly selected group of voters from both major political parties, plus independents and third-party members. Commission members and their spouses could not have been lobbyists, political operatives or Federal or state employees within five years prior to their appointment to the Commission.
The Independent Redistricting Commission would also be responsible for congressional redistricting which is currently done by the General Assembly enacting a bill that has been negotiated by legislative leaders.
Our bill includes requirements to assure transparency in the redistricting process and clear standards for the Commission to follow in drawing district lines in a fair manner.
A final redistricting plan would require the approval of at least seven out of eleven Commission members, including at least two Democrats, two Republicans and two independent or third-party members. In the unlikely event that the Commission is unable to agree on a plan, the bill would require that the Commission move to a process of elimination voting until only one plan remains in each category. The elimination voting process is an improvement over HB 722 from last session because it keeps the responsibility for redistricting within the Independent Redistricting Commission until the process is completed.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this necessary reform of the redistricting process.