On April 24, the Senate State Government Committee held a second hearing on redistricting reform, facilitated by Majority Chair Mike Folmer and Minority Chair Anthony Williams.
WHO? Who should draw district lines? If someone other than legislators is to draw the lines, how are those people selected and who oversees that selection?
HOW? What instructions should be given, or processes followed, in drawing district lines?
Senator Folmer focused attention on three specific issues that have been of continued concern to him: random selection, supermajority and the use of a special master. Those topics were addressed from a wide range of perspectives, as was the question of independence. Some redistricting commissions described as “independent” are in fact appointed by legislators, with little real independence.
Senators seemed to offer strong support for reform, but also showed a real commitment to getting the details right.
Senator Folmer’s webpage provides the hearing’s agenda, information about the four individuals who gave oral testimony and links to additional written testimony. Ellen Underwood of the National Council of State Legislators, Vince Barabba, of the California Redistricting Commission (sharing by teleconference), David Thornburgh of the Committee of Seventy and Amanda Holt, citizen mapmaker and noteworthy example of proactive civic engagement, shared much interesting information..
Fair Districts PA offered written testimony on two specific issues:
Volunteers Anne Hanna and Alan Meert provided testimony on the random selection process, with discussion of a randomized-selection algorithm they created to model how this could work.
Chair Carol Kuniholm provided testimony on the use of special masters in redistricting, with an explanation of precedent and suggestions for alternatives that might be considered in the amendment process.
This testimony was in addition to the testimony submitted by FDPA for the hearing on March 27.
Although Fair Districts PA was not invited to speak at this hearing, you can find 90 minutes of testimony from Carol Kuniholm and FDPA Legislative Director Pat Beaty on Senator Folmer’s webpage covering the first hearing on redistricting reform.
Senator Folmer and Majority Leader Jake Corman have repeatedly assured FDPA that they believe reform is needed for both Congressional and legislative redistricting and that they are open to the model of reform presented in SB 22, with small modifications agreeable to all parties.
Any bill approved by the Senate would still need to pass the House. We will continue to work toward that goal, and we appreciate the transparent, deliberative process supported by Senators Folmer, Williams and Corman.