For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process. GOP House State Government Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe called the surprise meeting Monday, because the bill’s supporters were trying to circumvent his panel to get the measure to the House floor. A number of lawmakers complained they were only given about ten minutes’ notice of the amendment. Metcalfe’s version of the bill would put six lawmakers in charge of the redistricting process. That’s one more than current law allows. It would also get rid of the governor’s ability to sign or veto the maps, and it would allow the Commonwealth Court to be a final arbiter of disputes, not the state Supreme Court.
After changing the language, Metcalfe quickly adjourned the meeting without calling a vote to pass the measure.
The Butler County Republican said if a version of the bill comes up again, he’ll do the same thing. “If they want to debate a proposal, they will debate this proposal in this committee,” he said.
Proponents of an independent commission say it would make the redistricting process less partisan, and therefore represent the people of Pennsylvania better.