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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 2, 2024 02:58 PM
From: Senator Timothy P. Kearney
To: All Senate members
Subject: Redistricting Reform Constitutional Amendment
In the near future, I will be introducing a proposed constitutional amendment to reform the processes by which Pennsylvania conducts the decennial redistricting of both congressional and state legislative districts (House and Senate). This proposal incorporates extensive feedback from PA legislators in response to recent Pennsylvania redistricting reform proposals. It also draws on lessons learned from redistricting commission activity and litigation in other states in the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle. 

At present, two different processes and multiple channels of information and input create confusion for both citizens and legislators. The five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) is responsible for PA House and Senate districts. That commission consists of majority and minority leaders or their designees, and a chair selected by those four initial commissioners. If the initial four commissioners fail to agree on a chair, as has been the case since the LRC was created by the PA Constitutional Convention of 1968, the majority of the PA Supreme Court chooses the chair.

Congressional redistricting is currently done by the General Assembly enacting a bill that has been negotiated by legislative leaders. When the General Assembly and Governor are unable to agree on a new congressional map, as happened in the 2020-21 cycle, the congressional redistricting plan is drawn or selected by the majority of the PA Supreme Court.
My proposal would provide one eleven-member commission (4 voters from each major party and 3 unaffiliated or 3rd party voters), to draw congressional and legislative districts.  The commission would be reasonably representative of the Commonwealth's diversity and free from legislative influence in both the selection of commission members and actions of the commission. Eligible applicants would be screened and selected in a part random, part more-targeted selection process overseen by the Secretary of State with assistance from the Ethics Commission.

The proposal would require a publicly accessible communication platform providing equal access to all data and information for both the general public and commissioners. Any member of the public would be able to submit maps, portions of maps, comment and feedback on the communication platform. At least 8 public meetings will precede the drawing of maps. Another 8 are required after preliminary maps have been made public. Decisions will require an affirmative vote of at least 7 commissioners, including at least 2 commissioners from each pool.

The proposal includes prohibitions against favoring or disfavoring individual candidates or providing a disproportionate advantage to any political party. It prioritizes clear, measurable standards to promote equitable representation for counties, municipalities, and communities of interest, with defined limits on population deviation and attention to compactness, contiguity, and geographic boundaries.
This legislation has the support of Fair Districts PA and allied organizations. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important, timely reform.

Introduced as SB1076