Pittsburgh City Council recently passed a resolution urging lawmakers to end the practice of gerrymandering legislative districts.
In the resolution, council urged the passage of SB 484, a bill in the state Legislature that would create an 11-person commission composed of members with no personal stake in the redistricting process.
That group would be tasked with drawing congressional and General Assembly districts based on objective criteria – and prohibited from drawing districts that benefit a particular political candidate or party.
Another requirement is that all the commission’s business must be conducted in public.
Senate Bill 484 was introduced by Sen. Lisa Boscola, who wrote this in her co-sponsorship memo:
This legislation calls for the establishment of a Citizen’s Redistricting Commission to achieve true independence in our redistricting process. The Commission shall consist of registered Pennsylvania voters that do not presently hold public office or are employed by a public official. The panel will be comprised of 5 registered Democrats, 5 registered Republicans, and 4 with other party affiliation.
The current system allows lawmakers to have a hand in drawing their own districts, an outright conflict of interest that gives an advantage to an incumbent legislator or political party. Districts need to be drawn in a responsible manner, not under political or party influence.
The legislation will require the final version of the Commission’s map to be approved by the voters. This proposal is similar to the redistricting model that is currently used in the state of California. It aims to produce a redistricting process that is independent from legislative or political influence.