There are two PA House bills to amend the state constitution — which means there is no gubernatorial veto — that may come up for votes within the next week. These amendments would seriously damage our state’s democracy.
Would enable legislative leaders to gerrymander and impair the independence of our state courts (Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth) by forcing judges to run in judicial districts rather than statewide. This undermines judicial independence and is opposed by PA bar associations. Few other states use judicial districts. No other state allows this level of legislative influence.
Passed out of committee with no public hearings, would abolish the current bi-partisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) and replace it with a politicized “citizens” commission appointed by leaders of the General Assembly.
Even worse: the Senate has complete say in approval of the Senate map, while the House has complete say in approval of the House map. Either chamber can vote down the work of the Commission, create their own map and pass it as a resolution by a simple majority. The governor is not allowed a veto. If citizens appeal the map the courts must return it to the chamber for revision. This is an unprecedented conflict of interest, opening the door to even more gerrymandered districts.
Both bills have been strongly supported by Republican legislators, with complete opposition from every Democratic legislator.
In both cases: please make clear that amending the constitution as an attempt to maintain partisan power or to signal displeasure with other functions of government is inappropriate and offensive.
If your state representative is a Republican, please contact them and urge them to vote ‘no’ on both of these two bills.
If they are a Democrat, please contact the legislative leaders and ask them to remove both bills from the calendar.