Lawmakers at the State Capitol looking for a new way to draw our state’s Congressional Map. 

That after the State Supreme Court had to draw a new map earlier this year after ruling our previous map as unconstitutional.

There are a pair of bills in both the House and Senate that would establish a commission of independent citizens to draw the state’s congressional and legislative district maps in the future, taking the power away from lawmakers.  

It’s similar to a commission California adopted a few years ago. 

A member of the CA redistricting commission, Peter Yao, says, “People lost faith in the legislators drawing their own district maps”.

California’s commission is made up of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents tasked with drawing the state’s congressional and legislative district maps. 

Member Cynthia Dai says, “Our legislature had an approval ranking of 11 percent before this process. Now, it’s over 50 percent”.

Carol Kuniholm, Chair of Fair Districts PA, says, “We’re confident that this would work well for Pennsylvania, if we could get it enacted”.  But, Kuniholm says getting it enacted in Pennsylvania will be the real struggle.  “Clearly, there are legislators in both houses and both parties who are open to a different process. How removed they’re willing to be from the process is an ongoing discussion.”

But, there are steps being taken.  On Tuesday, Senate Bill 22, sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola, was unanimously passed out of the Senate State Government Committee.  It would create an 11 member citizens commission to redraw district maps, but it only passed after an amendment that allows legislators a role in choosing the commissioners. 

Kuniholm says, “The bill as amended is still far, far, far better than the current process”.

There is a similar bill without that amendment being considered in the House.

–Matt Heckel, JET 24 Action News