By Joyce Rothermel
As the drama in Harrisburg continues about the process of addressing our “gerrymandered” condition (the manipulation of election district lines in a partisan way), we invite you to come out to learn more and to identify ways to support a fairer redistricting here in Pennsylvania.
We are hosting a potluck and discussion on the issue, the process and fair solutions with Suzanne Broughton from the League of Women Voters. Suzanne is well versed in the issue and has written about it in The NewPeople in 2017 and again in the March issue.
Because the situation is critical and so fluid, it pays to keep a close eye on it and get involved. Suzanne warns that now is the time to put a new system of redistricting in place. Even if we have a better plan for the 2018 Congressional elections, it will only be temporary and we face gerrymandered redistricting again after the 2020 census. We can do something now.
Suzanne reported in her March article, “A proposed new system would have all the maps drawn by an independent commission of 11 voters from three groups: 4 registered with each major party and 3 registered as independents or with other parties. The commission could not include office holders, their spouses, lobbyists, or paid staff and officers of political parties. The commission could not use the address of any individual, political affiliation of voters, previous election results or other mined data. It must hold public hearings and make the information being used and draft maps available to the public, probably on the Internet.
Final approval of the maps would require at least one vote from each of the three groups. This proposal is in the legislature as Senate Bill 22 and (identical) House Bill 722. Since these bills will amend the Pennsylvania Constitution, one must pass in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 legislative sessions and be approved by voters in a referendum. HB22 has 108 co-sponsors, more than half of the 203 members of the House, but is stuck in the House State Government Committee. The Senate State Government Committee has just scheduled a hearing for March 27 on SB22 and several competing redistricting bills.”
Plan now to attend the potluck and discussion on Thursday, April 26 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Thomas Merton Center, 5129 Penn Avenue in Garfield. Bring a dish or beverage to share. Please rsvp by calling the Center at 412-361-3022.
If you are unable to attend, remember you can find more information at http://www.fairdistrictspa.com. Join Fair Districts PA by clicking on the JOIN US button to receive email updates. Contact your legislators to support SB22 and HB722.
Joyce Rothermel is the Chair of the TMC Membership Committee.