Both House Bill 38 and House Bill 2207 were on the House calendar for second consideration every session day this week. Thank you to all who called, emailed and wrote letters to the editor to say it is WRONG to amend the PA constitution to put even more power in the hands of our unaccountable General Assembly.
Your efforts, along with the work of many other PA organizations, encouraged some courageous GOP representatives to promise to vote NO and forced legislative leaders to pass over the bills rather than risk a final No vote.
That doesn’t mean those bills are gone. The House recessed today until February 7. They could bring the bills back then or any time in future months.
We know it’s frustrating, confusing and exhausting to have repeated calls to action on the same very bad bills. It’s also frustrating to advocate, for years, for bills with strong public support, and to ask, repeatedly, “what does it take to be heard?” Our bills to create an independent citizens redistricting commission had 110 cosponsors in 2017-2018, but were never given a vote as written. With your help, we’ve invited county and municipal resolutions covering 90% of the PA population asking for an independent citizens’ commission. Polls show more than 7 in 10 PA voters want legislators removed entirely from the redistricting process. Yet our reform bills have been consistently ignored. Now these two toxic bills are being pushed forward, in direct defiance of voters’ wishes.
None of this will change without the tireless attention of informed, engaged voters. Thank you for your part in that. Please don’t lose heart or unsubscribe! We need more, not less, Pennsylvanians ready to take action when asked.
Congressional Map Update:
The General Assembly has passed House Bill 2146, the Congressional map selected and amended by Representative Seth Grove. We’ve asked Governor Wolf to veto it. Both map and process fall far short of his own guidelines and all that PA voters have asked for. Litigation on the Congressional map has already moved to Commonwealth Court, and hearings begin Thursday, Jan. 27, at 10:00 am on maps proposed by parties to the case (closed to the public but live on Youtube here). The court has said it will pick a map on Monday, but the case might also move to the PA Supreme Court sometime early next week. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.
Legislative Maps Update:
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission has scheduled a meeting for Friday, Jan. 28, at 2:00 pm. This will likely provide an introduction to final PA House and Senate maps and a public vote by the five commissioners. Check the commission’s website to get a confirmation of date and time, along with the link to watch live.
ALL PA maps are overdue. The Department of State asked for final maps this past Monday, Jan. 24th. Questions about candidate petition deadlines and primary dates are already in litigation.
Much of this confusion, frustration and delay could have been avoided by legislation providing clear criteria and better guardrails on the process. When legislative leaders complain, it’s important to remind them: they had a chance to require real transparency, to make criteria clear, and to lessen the influence of partisan motives. They failed to do so. LRC Chair Nordenberg has done a heroic job of carrying out a non-partisan process in a deliberately partisan construct. Let’s hope our high courts do the same.
- If you’re new to all this, spend time on our FairDistrictsPA.com website.
- If you’re confused about redistricting itself, or find discussion of legislative vs Congressional districts a challenge, this page might help.
- If you’re looking for other ways to take action, check the Take Action section.
- You can find answers to lots of current questions in our Updates section.
The next few weeks will decide much about PA politics and policy for the next decade, but our work is far from over. We will continue advocating for redistricting reform and educating voters about our tragically dysfunctional legislative process.
Thanks for supporting this work,
Fair Districts PA Chair
PS: We’ll be having our last Mapping Monday Open House on Monday, January 31, at 7:00 pm. This will likely be an update on all that’s been happening and an initial look at final maps. RSVP here.
The decisions by the federal court panel in the Middle District (Harrisburg) and the United States Supreme Court on the PA Redistricting cases are still pending. If you have not done so already, please sign this petition urging our members of Congress, the PA State Legislators, and Donald Trump to stop the attack on the courts. If you’ve already signed the petition, please send it to a friend or family member who believes in an independent judiciary.
Sign the petition here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-attack-on-the-courts