Fair districts, please


Lock Haven

On Feb. 15, The Washington Post published an article comparing the Republican and the Democratic proposals for new district lines.

In this article, Christopher Ingraham, the author, concluded that neither were quite as good as they might be. He noted that the Democratic map is slightly more compact and closer to the overall partisan balance of the state, but still is not optimal.

Ingraham mentioned that Fair Districts PA is working to do more than improve the maps for this cycle of elections. As I have mentioned numerous times, FDPA is about changing the process and taking politics and party out of redistricting. This effort is a nonpartisan grassroots effort covering all of Pennsylvania, led by Carol Kuniholm and the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters is on record against gerrymandering at least as early as 1991. Ronald Reagan was on record in 1989 against it.

The author quotes Ms. Kuniholm as she discusses the issue. She emphasizes that FDPA’s resolution has drawn bipartisan support in both chambers of our state government, just as we have had 100 percent, bipartisan support right here in Clinton County by our municipal governments and county commissioners.

With the statewide resolutions already gathered, we have millions of citizens represented and many more resolutions about to be passed.

As a representative democracy, it seems that legislators would be obligated to do as so many people ask. HB722 is the most sponsored bill in the House at this point and really, at this point, we are just asking for a legislative discussion.

Carol Kuniholm states, “Republican leaders have repeatedly stymied efforts to hold hearings on the measure”, that is, these bills sit in committee and have not even been brought up for discussion despite growing support. Rep. Metcalfe, the state government committee chair, has stated that he will never allow this bill out of committee. That does not seem fair or right. “The leadership has not expressed really any hint of interest in this reform,” Kuniholm said. The bill has “a lot of support from both sides, but the leadership has no interest in moving forward.”

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans say that they want to move forward, but the Supreme Court case put everything on hold. They say they are committed to reform after 2021. Ingraham reports that Kuniholm’s group doesn’t accept this excuse. FDPA has quite a few lawyers involved and they all agree this is not a valid argument. They are confident that our leaders could start reform tomorrow if they wanted to do it. Pennsylvania has 50 senators. Only a handful were involved in this map drawing.

I assume the other senators were doing their regular job; government did not stop. There will be 2 cycles of elections before 2021, so we must act now. We ask that they please bring HB722 and SB22 up for discussion and get these bills moving.

Government goes on no matter what and the people are waiting.