Senators Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) and Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) have introduced bipartisan legislation-- Senate Bill 22 (not yet online)-- to establish an independent commission to draw up Pennsylvania’s legislative maps.
“It’s time to take the stakeholders out of the redistricting process and turn it over to the people,” Sen. Boscola said. “We can’t fix how we’re governed until we fix how we choose who governs us.”
“I am looking forward to working with Senator Boscola to move this legislation forward,” Sen. Scavello said. “It is important that legislators on both sides of the aisle uphold a system of voting districts that best represents our citizens and the regions in which they live.”
Senate Bill 22 would establish an 11-member independent commission comprised by four individuals registered with the largest political party in the Commonwealth, four registered with the second-largest party, and three people not affiliated with either major political party.
The commission would draw up both Congressional and state legislative district maps. It would take a majority of seven – with support from a qualified majority of Commission members — for a redistricting plan to win approval.
Commission members would not be allowed to hold political or party office, be related to those who hold office, or work for those who hold office. Scavello and Boscola said state legislative districts would be redrawn using modern technology and software, and focus on standards such as ideal population balance in accordance with existing federal and state laws.
Senators Boscola and Scavello said it is crucial that the legislature act quickly if it hopes to have their bipartisan reform plan in place for the next round of reapportionment in 2020. The lawmakers pointed to the state’s 2010 redistricting battle as an example of how politics can interfere with the redistricting process.
“As I said when I first introduced the independent commission proposal years ago, we need an independent system where voters select their leaders, not the other way around,” Sen. Boscola said. “The current process invites gerrymandering, robs citizens of competitive races and spurs the kind of partisan polarization that has stymied legislative work in both Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg.”A number of organizations including Common Cause of PA and Fair Districts PA have endorsed the Boscola/Scavello bill.