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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2020 01:25 PM
From: Representative Wendi Thomas
To: All House members
Subject: Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (Former HB 2638)
I will soon be reintroducing legislation to reform the current processes for redistricting of both state legislative and congressional districts.

The proposed Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA) retains and builds upon Pennsylvania’s existing redistricting systems:  Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) for legislative redistricting and passage of legislation for congressional redistricting.  LACRA introduces greater transparency into both redistricting processes and establishes clear, measurable map-drawing criteria designed to prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering and promote accountability to voters.

Key process reforms include the following:

· Multiple statewide public hearings would be required both before and after preliminary redistricting plans are approved.  Hearings on congressional redistricting would be held by Senate and House State Government Committees and could be held jointly.
· All meetings would be subject to the Open Meetings Law and all hearings would be live-streamed with accommodations for multiple languages and convenient times for the public.
· A user-friendly website for dissemination of data, proposed maps and analyses, public comments and other information free of charge to the public.
· Any Pennsylvania resident could submit a redistricting map covering any or all districts or parts of districts.  Citizen maps would be available on the public website and be given consideration equal to formal testimony presented at public hearings.

LACRA will also impose clear, measurable mapping criteria, including:

· Existing PA Constitution requirements for compactness, contiguity and prohibited division of political subdivisions “unless absolutely necessary” would apply to both legislative and congressional redistricting.
· Additional limits on splitting counties beyond what is required by population and a prohibition against dividing voting precincts.
· Protection of racial and language minorities against discrimination in mapping process.
· A prohibition against gerrymandering designed to protect incumbents or to unfairly discriminate against political parties.
· Redistricting plans would also be expected to keep communities of interest intact and be responsive to voter preferences.

Please join me in cosponsoring these important redistricting reforms.

Introduced as HB22