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Democratic Senator Announces Plans to Reintroduce Redistricting Reform

Friday, January 4, 2019  
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The Legal Intelligencer

by Zack Needles

Democratic Senator Announces Plans to Reintroduce Redistricting Reform

Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, announced plans to reintroduce SB 464 of the 2017-18 session, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform how state legislative and congressional districts are redrawn.

“As a candidate for the Senate and as a sitting senator, I have consistently held the position that legislators should not have a direct hand in drawing their own legislative districts—we should not be choosing our voters, voters should be choosing us,” Blake said in a Dec. 26 co-sponsorship memorandum.
SB 464 would rename the “Legislative Reapportionment Commission” the “Legislative Redistricting Commission” and would task that body with both state and federal redistricting, to be completed in a single plan.

The bill aims to remove legislators from direct approval or rejection of plans by prohibiting all elected officials and members of their staff from serving on the commission. Instead, Blake said, the commission would consist of nine members: eight selected by the House and Senate majority and minority leaders, and one neutral who would serve as chair and whose appointment would require a super-majority approval with at least six of eight commissioners voting in favor. If a super-majority can’t be reached, a chairperson would appointed by the state Supreme Court.

Under Blake’s proposal, a super-majority with at least seven of nine commissioners voting in favor would be required to approve a preliminary redistricting plan. Failure to achieve a super-majority approval of the plan would require a revised plan to be drafted and approved in the same manner. If the plan were appealed and the Supreme Court were to strike it down, a new plan would need to be redrawn and adopted with at least seven of nine commissioners voting in favor.
A failure to achieve a super-majority approval of the preliminary, revised or final plan would automatically require the Supreme Court to draw up the final map.


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