House Majority Policy Committee is Bringing Harrisburg to Tredyffrin . . . State Rep Paul Drucker to Co-Chair Redistricting Reform Hearing on January 28

I spoke with State Rep Paul Drucker this morning concerning State House Bill 2005.  Rep Drucker introduced this legislation which would reform the legislative redistricting process in Pennsylvania.  The proposed bill would change the redistricting process by reducing the opportunity for “gerrymandering”; ensuring compact and contiguous legislative and congressional districts; and provide for competitive elections throughout the state.

What is “gerrymandering”? Gerrymandering is the process of diving a region in which people vote in a way that gives one political group and unfair advantage. According to the League of Women Voters, Pennsylvania is the second-most gerrymandered state in the union.

State Rep Drucker’s legislation would establish a nine-person committee made up of the top eight legislative leaders from the House and Senate and one chairman appointed by Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Under the bill, the chairman would have to be a registered voter in Pennsylvania for at least two years, would not hold federal, state, or local office and would not have held a position within a political party in the previous 10 years.

State Rep Paul Drucker will host a House Majority Policy Committee public hearing on Thursday, January 28 at 2 PM at the Tredyffrin Township Building to discuss redistricting reform in Pennsylvania. Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster will co-chair the hearing with Rep Drucker.  The public is not only encouraged to attend but also to offer comments.

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5 Responses

  1. Great… Let’s get the discussion rolling..

    How is Paul’s Bill different from H.B. 2420?

    http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2007&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=2420&pn=3718

    That was Babette Joseph’s original bill that she withdrew in 2008. For the record, Carole Rubley was a co-sponsor of that Bill.

    Just for the record, it is often said that the 172nd is the most Gerry Mandered district in the state. That happens to be John Perzel’s district. Coincidence….I think not.

    I find it interesting that Joseph’s is a co-sponsor of Paul’s bill. Her record on this matter is actually pretty weak.

    The timing on this is pretty suspicious. I think this is more about Paul laying the ground work of a political issue for the fall. It helps when one of the indicted reps in Bonus Gate has the most Gerry Mandered district in the state..and is a member of the opposing party.

    I’m all for reform.. But let’s be real clear here that much of this is nothing more than political theater.

  2. Here is a map that can help folks understand and visualize the issue:

    http://www.seventy.org/Downloads/Political_Maps/Philadelphia_House_of_Rep/Entire%20Southeast%20Region–House%20of%20Reps.pdf

    Looking to the 157th, one would have to say that it is quite Gerrymandered. A more appropriate legislated district would be one that included all of Tredyffrin, Easttown, perhaps Schuylkill. The fact that parts of West Norriton and Lower Providence are in the same district as Tredyffrin makes it pretty clear cut that it is a Gerry Mandered District.

    Looking to the 2008 race, the fact that Phoenixville was part of the district was key to Paul’s victory. Perhaps Paul could start with his own district and comment on that.

  3. John, thanks for the link. The map is very interesting. While it is obvious from looking at the map that “gerrymandering” has occured, my question is…..what would b the correct way to divide up the districts since there doesn’t seem to be any natural break up? I guess what I’m saying is that at some point someone or some group has to decide the area grouping – and when that’s done it would have to favor one group over another. Is there a ” right way” to do it? Do you know what Drucker is thinking? Any guess? Thanks.

    • Hi Jim,

      Let me answer your second question first as to what Drucker is thinking here… At least, this is my guess, but I think it is a good guess..:)

      This is more about Paul adding bullet points to a power point presentation for the purposes of an upcoming election. In that regard, Paul is no different from any other office holder seeking re-election. That said, there have been several attempts at this before – which is why I find it odd that Babette Joseph’s is part of this effort. She backed off the effort in 2008.

      Also, let’s not forget Paul’s whole CPR thing in 2008 when he was running the first time. I called that for what it was as well. To date, Paul has not called for DeWeese or Eachus to step down. To me, that would show some real political courage.

      If Paul wants to concentrate on something worthwhile, then how about owning the Paoli Train Station project.

      In terms of Gerry Mandering, I am all for making sure that groups of people are not disenfranchised. It would be nice if you could simply lay a grid over the state and go from there. In densely populated areas, it becomes unworkable. At the end of the day, much of this comes from both sides dealing back and forth. So in a weird way, there is some form of bi-partisanship when it comes to gerry mandering. You can find cases where members of either party benefit.

      To understand the current situation, we really need to know why Joseph’s took her 2008 bill off the table (a bill that Carole Rubley co-sponsored). Here we are ,2 years later, and as near as I can tell, the infirmities that Josephs’ cited in her bill are present in Paul’s bill.

      I don’t know that there is any one “correct” way to handle things. As Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2004 when the SCOTUS refused to hear the PA case: “there is no way for judges to decide when this inherently political process becomes too political.”

      In other words, how far is going too far? At the end of the day, Paul simply wants political credit for supporting the idea. In his election materials, which we will see in a few months, you will see this bill as part of his “accoomplishments”. The real accomplishment is simply getting the voting public to believe that Paul is committed to reform. In reality, Paul is committed to the “idea” of reform. In this society, that is all you really need to score political points.

      Again, I like Paul – but I am compelled to call it for what it really is. I did that with the CPR business 2 years ago. I see this latest gerry mandering bill as being the same dog with different fleas.

  4. The only way to ensure we have legislative districts that make sense is to take the process out of the hands of politicians and elected judges.

    To that end, then, the only real fix is an adjustment via a Constitutional Convention.

    Letting political leaders be involved in this process is like letting an employee administer his or her own performance review.

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