Sunday April 22, 2018
Acting on redistricting reform would change Harrisburg's image for the better.
Republican state Sen. David Argall recently told Fair Districts PA members that the Pennsylvania Legislature's approval rating hovers around that of used-car dealers. After witnessing how House leaders are handling the gerrymandering issue, I trust used-car dealers far more.
Argall wouldn't commit to co-sponsoring Senate Bill 22, which would create an independent nonpartisan commission to draw the state's legislative map after the 2020 census, but at least we had a dialogue. By contrast, Republicans in the House State Government Committee mounted an underhanded effort to gut its version, HB 722, which has support from more than half of the representatives.
With no public hearings, Republicans on the committee approved an "amendment" that was really a way to transform a bipartisan bill into a power grab that gives the majority party more control over the map.
This was supposed to happen quietly. Democrats on the committee were kept in the dark, and a reporter said Majority Chairman Daryl Metcalfe's office wouldn't even confirm the subject of the last-minute session.
I've heard approval ratings for California's Legislature have risen substantially since it formed its own nonpartisan redistricting commission. If Pennsylvania does this, our General Assembly might salvage its rock-bottom reputation.
Lisa Von Ahn
Legislature has chance to boost its reputation