HARRISBURG, June 2, 2015 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today joined a bipartisan group of legislators from the Pennsylvania State Senate and state House of Representatives to announce the establishment of a redistricting work group that will work to reform the way legislative and Congressional districts are drawn.
“I have consistently held the position – as a candidate for office and now as a Senator – that legislators should not have a direct hand in drawing their own legislative districts – we should not be choosing our electorate,” Blake said. “The formation of a bipartisan work group is an important first step toward eliminating gerrymandering in Pennsylvania politics and creating a more fair and transparent redistricting process prior to the 2020 census.”
Earlier this year, Senator Blake introduced Senate Bill 662 which proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to remove legislators from direct approval or rejection of any redistricting plans. Blake’s proposal would task a Legislative Redistricting Commission, composed of eight legislative appointments and a neutral chairperson, with concurrently completing state and federal redistricting within one plan. As a proposed constitutional amendment, the legislation would need to be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions.
“Our current system of drawing legislative districts is corrosive to representative democracy in many ways. It posits political influence within party leadership and within legislative caucuses while diffusing or marginalizing the voice of the people in important public policy debates,” Blake added. “It also stifles the prospect for balanced government and compromise as legislators end up beholden only to like-minded citizens and not to a diversity of opinion to which they can be held accountable. Our current redistricting process has produced gridlock in Washington DC and it produces an inevitable and growing disaffection among voters.”
Blake will be joined on the redistricting work group by State Sens. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh), Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), John Eichelberger (R-Blair) as well as a number of state Representatives and other members of statewide government reform advocacy groups.
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