State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Lawmakers pressed for time on gerrymandering amendment

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 10, 2017 5:03 AM
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Members of Fair Districts PA, which advocates for redistricting reform, rally on the Capitol steps. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- Around the state, advocates and frustrated Pennsylvanians are pushing lawmakers to change the rules governing how district lines are redrawn every ten years.

The current process lets politicians the skew districts in their political favor--a process known as gerrymandering.

But it's going to take some serious legislative might to make changes.

On Tuesday, a crowd of protesters nearly filled the Capitol's front steps--many holding up green signs that read "end gerrymandering in PA."

They're supporting bills in the House and Senate that aim to do just that, by amending the state constitution to make redistricting more impartial.

Time may not be on the legislature's side though. Constitutional amendments have to be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions--a slow process.

Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola, of Lehigh County, is a sponsor on her chamber's bill and said it has to pass by next summer.

"When you look at these districts, they make no sense," Boscola said. "[Some look like] salamanders, mine looks like a transformer--it's got to change."

Monroe County Republican Mario Scavello is the cosponsor on the bipartisan Senate bill.

He said the amendment is good policy, but noted that he thinks actually passing the amendment isn't the end-all-be-all.

"Regardless of what happens, putting pressure on the legislature is a good thing," he said. "Whatever product that comes forth in the next map, it will be better than the last one."

The bills in the House and Senate would create an independent citizens commission, which would keep redistricting from being a purely partisan process.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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