What you Need to Know About SB 484 and Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform

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Last week we told you about a bipartisan group of legislators and nonprofits who have come together to announce redistricting reform efforts in Pennsylvania.

Two bills were discussed at an associated press event – HB 1835 and SB 484.

Pennsylvanians for Fair Elections, a Pittsburgh-based nonpartisan, nonprofit voting-rights advocacy group and proud member of Fair Districts PA – which is working in tandem with policy makers to help with reform efforts – wanted to ensure you had a working knowledge of these pieces of legislation.

So today we wanted to start by giving you an FAQ of sorts about Senate Bill 484.

Here’s what you need to know:

WHO? The bill was introduced by Sen. Lisa Boscola, a Democrat serving parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties.

WHAT? SB 484, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution by reforming the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn.

HOW?  This legislation calls for the establishment of a Citizen’s Redistricting Commission, which Boscola said will help “to achieve true independence in our redistricting process.

Here’s how it would work under SB 484: The commission would consist of registered Pennsylvania voters who do not currently hold public office or are employed by a public official.

The panel would be composed of five registered Democrats, five registered Republicans and four with other party affiliations.

WHY? Legislators and nonpartisan nonprofit groups like Fair Districts PA want to help amend the way political maps are currently drawn because the system – as is – allows lawmakers to have a hand in drawing their own districts, a conflict of interest that gives an advantage to an incumbent legislator or political party. If approved, SB 484 will require the final version of the commission’s map be approved by voters.

By way of background: This proposal is similar to the redistricting model currently used in the California, which aims to produce a redistricting process that is independent from legislative or political influence.

In short: It would allow voters to choose their politicians and not the other way around.

If you believe redistricting reform is necessary in Pennsylvania, and want to support efforts to help make political map-drawing in the Keystone State more open, fair and transparent, contact your state senator and ask they he or she support SB 484.

Not sure who your senator is or how to get in touch with is or her office? There’s a website for that!
 

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