Harrisburg – On Monday, June 25th the Pennsylvania legislative assembly adjourned for what is probably the final time until September without passing redistricting reform legislation. During recent weeks heavy activity was focused on attempts to pass a redistricting bill to improve the process of drawing congressional and legislative maps in Pennsylvania.
The legislative push stalled after a bill arrived from the senate weighted with an amendment to create jurisdictional districts for statewide appellate court judges. Common Cause Pennsylvania, along with other organizations and grassroots movements, encouraged legislators to take the appropriate steps to return the bills focus solely to the creation of a citizens commission to draw district lines, but unfortunately that did not occur.
“I applaud the incredible work done by legislators, organizations and citizens to make this critical reform something the majority of Pennsylvanians believe is needed,” said Micah Sims, Executive Director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. “I believe that real reform isn’t tied to a clock or date, but tied to fairness, equality and justice. The fight continues because our citizens, our children and our future deserve nothing short of a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy is not limited by time or space but only when advocates and citizens stop pressing forward. We will press forward, because this is our common fight, this is our common cause and this is for our commonwealth.”
The redistricting reform movement expressed disappointment with the legislature’s failure to pass reforms but emphasized they have not been defeated. The groups have vowed that their efforts must continue and will continue. Common Cause Pennsylvania has pledged to work with its partners, allies and elected officials to create consensus around a redistricting bill worthy enough to gain passage as soon as possible, so that partisan gerrymandering ends in Pennsylvania.
Roads To Success
Common Cause Pennsylvania and its allies will continue conversations and meetings with legislative leadership in an attempt to find a path forward to develop a bill that would pass both chambers of the legislature, before the mid July deadline. We will not support the return of the legislature unless there is a strong consensus to approve passage of legislation that is solely focused on congressional and legislative redistricting without the unneeded and controversial addition of judicial districts.
Common Cause Pennsylvania will develop legislation to improve the current process to ensure that maps drawn in 2021 have the necessary safeguards, transparency and criteria needed to produce maps which are fair, responsive and equitable. The groups have emphasized that they are open to developing legislation that makes the legislative reapportionment commission responsible for both the congressional and legislative maps in 2021.
Common Cause Pennsylvania would advocate for the creation of a redistricting task force or commission by the governor and legislature leadership to produce a report discussing the policy of redistricting as associated with the political, geographical and racial makeup of the commonwealth.
Action Plans For Success
This summer, a growing schedule of town halls, webinars, twitter storms, church visits and community events is planned articulating the message of reform for an improved Pennsylvania. New supporters and advocates continue to join the effort and the discussion of redistricting reform, in order to develop a full and inclusive redistricting amendment, legislation and campaign.
Outreach to more state, county, local and community organizations to improve the effort for democracy issues such as redistricting, voting modernization, census and more. People want to trust government, but government must exhibit actions and attitudes that they want to be trusted.
An action plan is currently being mapped out, to be articulated to elected officials, for the fall legislative session to ensure the effort in Harrisburg hits the ground running in September and maintains our current momentum.