On Tuesday, June 12 on the Senate floor, SB 22 was cynically hijacked by majority leaders. The Senate was meeting to discuss and vote on amendments to SB 22. Two amendments passed: one that strengthened SB 22 and increased its bipartisan appeal, and one that turned SB 22 into a deeply partisan poison pill - or a Trojan Horse, depending on one’s perspective.
On Tuesday, June 12, amendments to Senate Bill 22 were considered on the Senate floor. The omnibus amendment, patiently negotiated by Senator Folmer to strengthen the bill and gain further bipartisan approval, passed with a vote of 48 to 1.
Immediately after, Senator Aument of Lancaster offered an amendment that would use Senate Bill 22 as a vehicle to create regional judicial elections. With strong support from Republican Senate leadership, expressed by Senator Corman, and with equally strong objection from Democrats, who described it as a power grab and retribution for the League of Women Voters’ redistricting lawsuit, that amendment passed along party lines with a vote of 31 to 18. Only two Republican Senators courageously voted no: Folmer and Rafferty.
From the senate gallery and on live-stream across the state, Fair Districts PA supporters watched as the bill that was painstakingly crafted as a bipartisan solution was twisted into a deeply partisan, divisive instrument cynically designed as a poison pill on a long-sought reform and/or a Trojan Horse in an unrelenting hyper-partisan battle.
This maneuver underscored Senate leaderships’ deep disregard for advocates who are eager for redistricting reform - including thousands of their own constituents. By hijacking the efforts of so many committed volunteers, they signaled their belief that they are impervious to the anger and frustration felt by so many voters across our Commonwealth. In minutes, they took the most read, discussed and debated bill in decades and burdened it with a controversial, divisive amendment - one that had received zero public hearings. Then they rammed it through with clear partisan intent.
We will remember the Senate vote and will turn our anger and frustration into renewed energy toward foundational change. We, the people, have demonstrated beyond a doubt that we want an independent citizens redistricting commission, with strict rules for fairness and transparency. Senate leaders and complicit members of the Senate GOP have made it crystal clear that they want business as usual: partisan gamesmanship to maintain a partisan advantage won through a highly partisan redistricting process.
We are deeply disappointed, but NOT defeated. We are outraged, but moving onward. We will take our case to the House, and from there, to the polls.
For this week, we urge you to: