Unfair congressional and legislative districting affect everyone in our commonwealth. For too long, Pennsylvania legislators have drawn up our districts in secret. They have created bizarre, contorted districts that give one or another political party an unfair advantage in representation.
The recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not changed this situation. In 2020, we will go right back to gerrymandering unless we fix this problem. I’m writing from Elizabethtown in Lancaster County because this is a Pennsylvania problem and it takes all of us to solve it.
We have the power to eliminate gerrymandering by amending the state Constitution to create a citizens’ commission to draw the voting districts. This commission would consist of four members of each of the top two political parties and three members of minority parties or unaffiliated residents. The commission would create districts that would be transparent, independent and ethical. The two bills that would create this commission, House Bill 722 and Senate Bill 22, must pass in the 2017-18 legislative session (deadline: July 2018), and then again in the 2018-19 session before going to the voters for a referendum.
SB22 has moved out of committee for hearings; the next one is on April 24. HB722 was gutted on Wednesday through an amendment in a committee run by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County. The amended bill from Metcalfe would put in place a redistricting process even more partisan and less accountable than the current process.
Cranberry Township has passed a resolution of support for both bills. With news of Cranberry’s unanimous resolution, 46 percent of municipal leaders in Metcalfe’s district support these bills.
Elected officials across the state, with both Republican and Democrat majorities, have passed resolutions in support of these bills — representing 6.21 million Pennsylvanians, 48 percent of the estimated population of Pennsylvania (12.94 million). As chair of the State Government Committee, Metcalfe is responsible to all citizens of our great state.
Time is short. Please ask your statehouse and Senate representative to support fair districts. For information, see fairdistrictspa.co.