Letter to the editor: We need leadership on gerrymandering
There are nine gerrymandering proposals in our General Assembly. Two — Senate Bill 767 authored by Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and House Bill 2020 authored by Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre County — pertain to the federal congressional districts regulated under 25 Pa.C.S.506. The others pertain to the General Assembly districts under Article II, Sections 16 and 17 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Supreme Court has ordered that our 18 federal congressional districts be redistributed to eliminate political gerrymandering.
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack has filed a proposed map with the Supreme Court based on court testimony. Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks County, uses the “optimally compact” map. These are marvelously similar, based on scholarship and absent political considerations: 710,000 voters per district; contiguous and compact; respectful of county and municipal boundaries. Philadelphia is its own, and Allegheny County accommodates Pittsburgh. No one has objected to either map.
We need leadership. The Democratic Policy Making Committee has not held a hearing to sort out the gerrymandering proposals. Neither have the Republicans. Eight bills are in Rep. Daryl Metcalfe's (R-Cranberry) committee and five bills are in Sen. Mike Folmer's (R-Lebanon County) committee. Neither has held a hearing. They're still waiting for the court.
Our Supreme Court has spoken. The iron is hot. Now is the time for hearings to sort out how to best purge the gerrymandering from our system.
Please contact your state legislator and demand resolution of this cancer in our system.
The Rev. Roger Thomas
Harmony Township, Beaver County
The writer is chairman of the Pennsylvania Committee for the Analysis and Reform of Our Criminal System.