Open letter to PA legislators: Enough already. End gerrymandering now.

Fair Districts PA, allied organizations, and thousands of citizens have worked hard to shepherd redistricting reform bills through the legislative process over the last 20 months. We will NOT sit quietly by as politicians in Harrisburg try to derail that effort and preserve a self-serving status quo. There are just five session days left. We call on our legislators to pass a clean, strong redistricting reform bill now. No summer break until they do their job.

Dear Pennsylvania Senators and Representatives,

Congratulations on completing a budget quickly. I’m sure you’re looking forward to your summer break.

Before that happens: pass a clean, strong redistricting reform bill.

Fair Districts PA and our 40,000 supporters, as well as the many thousand others in loosely allied organizations focusing on our elections, have come too far on this issue to let the clock quietly tick out.

We have worked hard to stay polite, focused and nonpartisan: doing the hard work of learning to read bills and amendments, educating voters, explaining yet again why this reform is so foundational to our state.

We have put up with endlessly deferred meetings. We’ve been maligned, misrepresented, mocked in the latest Metcalfe Minute posted on a citizen-funded website.

We’ve come to committee meetings mysteriously canceled at the last minute and have scrambled to attend meetings deliberately scheduled with less-than-required public notice.

We have negotiated in good faith only to see our hard work hijacked, twisted, undermined, and sandbagged with nonsensical amendments.

We have seen - up close and very personal - the utter dysfunction and deep disrespect of voters that have been business as usual for far too long in Harrisburg.

We are not done.

And not at all ready to spend the decade quietly waiting for reform.

Given all the confusion of hundreds of amendments we will now make our requests clear and simple:

We want the Samuelson amendment, A08876, to SB 22 to be introduced on the floor on Monday afternoon and passed as quickly as possible. Once that’s done, all the other amendments become moot.

That amendment incorporates original language from the original HB 722 and SB 22, the two bills most discussed and co-sponsored in this current session, drafted by legislators in both houses and both parties with input from Fair Districts PA and other advocacy organizations, and with the support of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

That amendment adds language from the recently negotiated omnibus amendment to SB 22, further safeguarding the mapping process and increasing public transparency. It also provides a new, non-partisan failsafe - result of hours of conversation with legislators and allies - that will prevent the commission from a deadlock and remove the need to turn to a court-appointed special master.

Once that amendment is passed, we ask the House to return to session on Tuesday to pass the bill from the floor. Then we ask the Senate to return to session on Wednesday to vote concurrence on the final bill.

We will be in the House gallery on Monday at 1 PM waiting.

And in the House gallery on Tuesday at 10 AM waiting.

And in the Senate gallery on Wednesday at 10 AM waiting.

Our constitution says the people have the right to alter, reform or abolish their government as they may deem proper. We have been working very hard to exercise that right.

There are five more session days left on the House and Senate calendars before the end of June. We expect to have this bill passed before summer recess.

We will be in the capitol waiting every day until that’s done, then will take our cause to your own district offices, your own local fairs, your own parades and festivals.

We have grown quickly, are growing even more quickly as the public watches how this plays out, and will be focusing our summer energy on growing in areas where we’ve met most resistance and seen most disrespect from disdainful legislators attempting to hijack, derail or bury our effort.

We’ll be naming names, sharing details and making sure voters know how deep the dysfunction and duplicity go.

We stand firmly and unapologetically in the tradition of our state and national founders and their grand vision of governance of, by and for the people.

Pass A08876 quickly, pass the resultant SB 22 quickly, and then we can all enjoy our Fourth of July festivities and a well-earned summer break.

On behalf of our forty-thousand supporters:

Carol Kuniholm
Chair, Fair Districts PA