Press Conference Announcing House Bill 1776

Prime sponsors say “It’s time to get started” and “Gerrymandering - no matter who does it - is WRONG.”

On April 10, Representatives Steve Samuelson (House District 135, Northampton County) and Representative Mark Gillen (House District 128, Berks County) held a press conference in the capitol rotunda to announce the introduction of House Bill 1776, a PA Constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission.

They were joined by Senator Tim Kearney (Senate District 26, Delaware County), Fair Districts PA Chair Carol Kuniholm, Common Cause PA Executive Director Philip Hensley-Robin, and several dozen FDPA supporters and volunteers.

Earlier that morning, FDPA volunteers dispersed throughout the capitol building to deliver folders with information about HB 1776 and the growing support for redistricting reform. Documents included in those folders are available here.

In the press conference, Rep. Samuelson explained essential aspects of HB 1776:

Rep. Gillen brought a print of the congressional district map that first spurred his concern about the PA redistricting process. He noted that Congressional District 7, approved as part of the 2012 redistricting process, has been given many names including Goofy Kicking Donald. His own name for it, he said, was simpler: WRONG. It was wrong to divide five counties (including his) unnecessarily. And wrong to draw such very different regions into one district to provide one incumbent a guaranteed safe seat.

While Rep. Gillen’s Berks County was harmed by that distorted district, Senator Kearney’s Delaware County was also dissected by that same district. He intends to introduce a companion bill in the Senate; watch for news soon regarding Senate Bill 1076.

Kuniholm shared some of the back story of Fair Districts PA’s work on redistricting reform, and evidence of public support seen in over 1200 informational meetings and over 102,000 petition signatures from all parts of PA. You can read her remarks here.

Hensley-Robin spoke of the work of Common Cause across the country and shared some of his own recent experience in redistricting reform efforts with Fair Districts New Jersey, a project of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

Now that HB 1776 is formally introduced, it is time to invite your own representative to cosponsor. Check here for more information on that.