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PA Senate passes redistricting reform legislation

HARRISBURG — Statewide redistricting reform passed the Pennsylvania Senate Wednesday.

The Senate voted 35-14 in favor of Sen. Lisa Boscola’s bill which would change the state’s constitution to establish a citizen’s commission to redraw congressional and state legislative district maps, according to a release.

An 11-member, independent commission would be chosen by a to-be-determined application and selection process, the release says. The bill (Senate Bill 22) adds that the commission would include four Democrats, four Republicans and three Independents.

“We can’t sacrifice progress in search of the perfect,” said Sen. Mike Folmer, Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee. “Redistricting reform has always been important to me, and though everyone may not have gotten all they wanted – including myself – Senate passage of SB 22 is proof our Constitutional Republic works as we worked assiduously with the advocates to find common ground to better Pennsylvania’s redistricting process.”

Members of the commission would be confirmed by two-third confirmations of the General Assembly, the release adds.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Sen. Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh) issued this statement:

“While this amended version of my legislation has taken a bumpy voyage through the Senate, the measure has emerged as a reasonable compromise that retains my goal of separating politicians from the actual map-drawing process.

“It is truly a historic day for the chamber.  In most other states where redistricting reform took place it was through petition and referendum, something not available to the voters of Pennsylvania.  Today, we took steps to diminish our influence over the way in which we draw all our legislative district boundaries and turn it over to an independent commission.

“I am satisfied that the amended proposal would still make the process far more transparent and fair than the current system.

“In the end, this vote moves the potential for real redistricting reform one step closer to a people’s vote.  And reforming our redistricting process will help strengthen representative democracy in Pennsylvania.

“I thank and acknowledge the citizen advocates who put so much time and effort into reforming the process. Without their spirited effort to raise public awareness, this legislation would have never seen the light of day.”