Open Letter to Governor Wolf

Dear Governor Wolf,

As time runs out on legislative efforts to reform the redistricting process in Pennsylvania before 2021, we turn to you for help.

While we appreciate the good will and investment of effort by many in our PA Legislature who have worked to move redistricting reform legislation forward, the process has become mired under the weight of controversial or irrelevant amendments.

A special session would provide opportunity to begin again with a strong, clean bill.

We ask you to call a special session to begin on July 9 so this historic reform can be completed quickly, allowing legislators and advocates to enjoy their summer knowing the deadline has been met.

The three bills we helped draft and have strongly supported, Senate Bill 22, House Bill 722 and House Bill 2402, garnered more co-sponsors and support than any other legislation introduced in this session.

Yet without your help, the independent commission described in those bills will never come to a vote in a way that allows passage before the approaching advertising deadline for constitutional amendments.

Our state Constitution says the deadline for such an amendment is three months before the next general election, but our Department of State requires several weeks to put advertisements in place. That means the deadline for the General Assembly is sometime in the latter half of July.

Legislative leaders in both houses and both parties have expressed willingness to come back and vote on this measure, but the original bill was burdened with an amendment passed in the Senate on a divisive topic and then further burdened with over 600 amendments proposed in the House.

The fastest avenue to passage at this time would be for you to call a special session. This would allow the original bipartisan prime sponsors of both House and Senate bills to propose their bills again, incorporating all the best new safeguards and provisions negotiated by Senator Folmer during the hearing process in the Senate, adding a new, nonpartisan failsafe proposed by Representative Eric Roe and introducing small adjustments in language to address legitimate concerns raised by legislators in thousands of conversations and email exchanges across the past 20 months.

Some in our group have been working on this since the early 1990s. Others, alarmed at the loss of confidence in our representative government, have invested great energy and time learning to read and track legislation and helping to gather over 40,000 signatures in support of this reform.

In the past 20 months we have held over 440 public meetings, attended by over 20,000 people. Citizens have initiated hundreds of resolutions of support, yielding resolutions from 19 counties and 263 municipalities, representing over half of Pennsylvania’s population.

The citizens of Pennsylvania have invested too much in this to allow the clock to tick out quietly.

We believe our economy, our communities and our Commonwealth are deeply harmed by partisan gerrymandering and the accompanying erosion of trust in our legislative process.

Pennsylvania cannot wait another decade for a fair, transparent redistricting process.

Help us reclaim the promise of our PA Constitution, Article 1, Section 2:

All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.

Please call a special session addressing legislative and congressional redistricting.

Thank you,

Carol Kuniholm

Fair Districts PA Chair