See what we’ve already accomplished—and what needs to happen next.
Building on productive relationships cultivated in past legislative sessions, Fair Districts PA leaders work closely with legislators to fashion innovative reform strategies.
Bills FDPA helped shape continue to draw more co-sponsors than any others in each of the past sessions of the Legislature, winning majority or near-majority support in the PA House and Senate. Nonetheless, and despite overwhelming public support for reform in poll after poll, a handful of party leaders and committee chairs continue to block reform.
The Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA), House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 222, respectively were all reintroduced. In the House, HB 22 had 90 bipartisan cosponsors and did not receive a hearing or come up for a vote in committee.
In the Senate, the original SB 222 had 25 bipartisan cosponsors. That’s 50% of our Senators. For a bill to become law, it must be voted on in a committee. SB 222 was voted on in the State Government Committee on June 22, 2021.
Before the vote, SB 222 was gutted and replaced by an amendment made by the committee chair, Sen. Argall. The gutted bill only addressed congressional redistricting. Legislative redistricting was entirely eliminated from the bill. The amended bill also removed the clear and measurable map drawing criteria, public engagement and transparency safeguards. The bill as amended is a shell of what 25 legislators, representing half of Pennsylvania, wanted and cosponsored.
As a result, no legislation was passed to safeguard the once-every-10-year map-drawing process.
The plan to create an independent redistricting commission was introduced in the House (HB 22 & HB 23) and Senate (SB 1022 & SB 1023). As happened in the previous legislative session, these bills gained more cosponsors than other bills introduced.
This solution was yet again blocked and stalled. The bills did not pass in time to implement before the 2021 redistricting process.
The Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA) was proposed after the earlier set of bills ran out of time. LACRA introduces greater transparency into both the congressional and state legislative redistricting processes and expands opportunities for meaningful public engagement, including mandatory public hearings both before and after redistricting plans are formulated. In addition, it establishes clear, measurable map-drawing criteria designed to prevent partisan gerrymandering and promote accountability to voters
LACRA was voted out of the Senate State Government Committee, but it did not get a vote on the Senate floor. The proposed bills never had a vote or a hearing in the House State Government Committee despite ongoing and increased public and municipal support for this good government reform.
In the final days of 2016, FDPA leaders and allies worked with legislators and policy staff to redraft reform bills ignored by the PA Legislature in the 2015-16 session. In the 2017-18 session, Fair Districts PA supporters made redistricting reform an issue to be reckoned with. The House bill we supported (HB 722) gained more co-sponsors than any other introduced in its session. The Senate bill (SB 22) was amended and passed in the Senate only to die under the weight of over 600 proposed amendments in the House.
Gerrymandering + Unfair Procedural Rules = Dead End for Reforms.
In the end, legislative maneuvers in both houses made clear the need for attention to procedural rules and the need for even stronger outreach to legislators and the public. Over the course of our work we’ve realized that Gerrymandering + Unfair Procedural Rules = Dead End for Reforms.
Read how rules block good bills
Speak up. Show your elected officials that their constituents demand fair redistricting policies.
We’ve made great progress in informing the public on the issue and in making our concerns clear to our Pennsylvania legislators. But there’s still work to be done, and we’ll need your help to ensure that in future elections we are the ones choosing our politicians, not the other way around.