Killion introduces redistricting reform

A measure that would create an independent citizens commission to draw congressional districts has been introduced in the state Senate.

State Sen. Tom Killion, R-Chester and Delaware, introduced the legislation designed to end congressional gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1023 would establish an 11-member Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw congressional district lines.

(Graphic from Fair Districts PA Facebook page.)

“Citizens should pick their legislators, not vice versa,” said Killion in a press release. “The current congressional redistricting process in which legislative leaders propose a congressional redistricting plan that is then presented to the General Assembly for approval is irreparably broken.”

The Independent Redistricting Commission would consist of a randomly-selected group of voters from both major political parties, independents and third-party members. Commission members and their spouses can't have been lobbyists, political staff or federal or state employees within five years prior to their appointment to the Commission.

Senate Bill 1023 is supported by Fair Districts PA, a nonpartisan, statewide coalition of organizations and individuals working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair.

“Fair and competitive elections are vital to our system of government,” said Carol Kuniholm, chair and co-founder of Fair Districts PA and a former board member responsible for election reform issues for the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. “When the outcomes of elections are pre-determined because districts are drawn to favor one political party, whether Republican or Democratic, you wind up with legislators more aligned with that party’s base rather than the interests of average voters.”

“The current redistricting system is a major contributor to our political polarization,” said Mark Pavlovich of the Chester County Steering Committee for Fair Districts PA. “It also results in an unwillingness to compromise on the part of our legislators.”

Senate Bill 1023 is closely related to Senate Bill 1022, introduced by Senator Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh and Northampton, which would amend the state constitution to reform the way in which state legislative and senatorial districts are drawn.

“My legislation has 13 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, and enjoys broad public support,” said Killion. “I’m hopeful we can move this bill and get this done in time for the 2021 congressional reapportionment.”

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