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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2014 05:09 PM
From: Senator John P. Blake
To: All Senate members
Subject: Redistricting Reform
I will soon be reintroducing SB1407 of the 2013-14 Session which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform the manner in which our State Senate, State House, and Congressional Districts are redrawn. As a candidate for the Senate and as a sitting senator, I have consistently held the position that legislators should not have a direct hand in drawing their own legislative districts – we should not be choosing our voters, voters should be choosing us. Therefore, my legislation would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution in the following manner:
  • The “Legislative Reapportionment Commission” would be renamed as the "Legislative Redistricting Commission."
  • The Commission would be tasked with both state and federal redistricting to be completed concurrently in one plan.
  • It would remove legislators from direct approval or rejection of plans: No Commission members may be elected officials or members of their staff at the local, state, or federal levels of government.
  • The Commission would consist of 9 members: House and Senate majority and minority leaders would appoint 2 commissioners each, totaling 8 legislative appointments. The selection of a neutral 9th commissioner, who would serve as chairperson, would require a super-majority approval with at least 6 of 8 commissioners voting in favor.
  • Failure to achieve at least 6 of 8 votes in favor of a chairperson would require an appointment by the Supreme Court.
  • Commission meetings would be required to be held in public and comply with all laws which apply to open meetings.
  • As soon as the Commission certified census population data, it would draft a preliminary plan and hold at least 2 public, geographically-dispersed hearings throughout the Commonwealth.
  • The approval of the preliminary plan would require a super-majority approval with at least 7 of 9 commissioners voting in favor.
  • Failure to achieve a super-majority approval of the plan would require a revised plan to be drafted and approved by the commission in the same manner.
  • If an aggrieved person filed an appeal and the Supreme Court found the plan contrary to law, the Commission must redraw and adopt a final plan with at least 7 of 9 commissioners voting in favor.
  • Failure to achieve a super-majority approval of the preliminary, revised, or final plan would automatically require the Supreme Court's redistricting of the Commonwealth.
  • All plans must be completed by the end of the calendar year following the census.
Prior co-sponsors included Senators Teplitz, Washington, Folmer, Fontana, Boscola, Stack, Wiley, Farnese and Yudichak.

Introduced as SB662