Though the new state legislative session hasn’t technically started, lawmakers are already filing memos for the bills they plan to sponsor. One of the first issues on the agenda has already commanded lawmakers’ attention for nearly a year: redistricting. Last winter, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional map unfairly benefited Republicans and redrew it. The move inflamed a debate that had smoldered for a long time: that the map-drawing process has to be less political. The commonwealth’s congressional maps are passed through state legislation. State House and Senate maps are drawn by a five-member commission, of which four members are elected officials.
But many lawmakers and activists want some form of citizen’s commission to manage the process instead.
Lehigh County Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola is trying to make it happen. She sponsored a bill to that effect last session and, after many compromises, a version passed the Senate that would have created an eleven-member citizens’ commission appointed by the legislature and governor, among other things.
Many activists ultimately opposed it, arguing it would let lawmakers retain too much power. It never passed the House.