A bill in the Pennsylvania House to create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission was rewritten to give the legislature even more control over the legislative redistricting process.
Don’t worry. I did a double take the first time I heard about this story too.
According to Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Pennsylvanians should trust that he and his colleagues are the most accountable to voters to redraw districts in a way that provides the best and most accurate representation.
It’s not like Pennsylvania was just forced to redraw its congressional map because the courts found that it constituted a partisan gerrymander and therefore was unconstitutional. Oh wait…
This is the actual quote from Metcalfe, who chairs the House Government Committee:
“The best way to make sure we have citizens actually being the ones redrawing, citizens who are held accountable to their fellow citizens who elect them to office, and are not just going to go away after the work is done, and be held accountable in the future for their decisions, is to totally gut and replace this bill.”
In an ideal world, yes, lawmakers would be accountable to voters to make decisions that best represent them, and the people would provide a check on these lawmakers.
But state lawmakers — through gerrymandering — get to pick the voters they are accountable to, and thanks to party primaries, they only have to answer to their party’s base most of the time.
The original bill — which was stalled in committee for 11 months — proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission to redraw state legislative and congressional districts.
The new version reportedly calls for six lawmakers to be directly involved in the redistricting process, and cuts out the governor, who has the power to sign or veto maps, essentially giving the legislature even more power in the process.
It’s a mind boggling story, to say the least. Check out more on it here.