The gerrymandering battle may be 'over', but we're just getting started.
MarchOnHarrisburg has spent the entirety of 2018 and much of 2017 doing everything that we possibly can to end gerrymandering.
In that time, we have met with 250 out of the 253 legislators (several times each) to discuss the solution to end gerrymandering. SB 22 / HB 722 would have created an Independent Redistricting Commission that would take the power to draw maps out of incumbents’ hands and give it to the citizenry. We also organized 11-actions, during which 48 activists were arrested with MarchOnHarrisburg while demanding a vote on this bill.
Because of the lobbying efforts of MarchOnHarrisburg and other pro-democracy organizations, HB 722 was the most co-sponsored bill this session in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, both the Senate and the House directly contradicted the will of the people of Pennsylvania and gutted these grassroots-supported and fought for reforms, gutting the reform they were supposed to create.
On Monday, June 25, the Pennsylvania State Legislature left for their summer vacation a week early without ending gerrymandering.
Since legislators left for summer vacation, MarchOnHarrisburg:
Occupied Governor Wolf’s office and met with his chief-of-staff
Camped out outside of Governor Wolf’s home, resulting in Governor Wolf releasing a statement calling for a special session once there was legislative consensus
Lobbied Senate and House Leadership, taking meetings with Senator Costa and Representative Dermody’s staff
Organized a direct action against Speaker Turzai at his home, during which the Speaker had his own constituent arrested
Despite years of efforts from thousands of people across PA, there is still not a legislative consensus on redistricting reform. Neither Speaker Turzai nor Minority Leader Frank Dermody have agreed to an up-or-down vote on the Samuelson Amendment, which would fix the mess that the Senate made of SB 22.
Today, August 6, is the technical, ‘hard deadline’ to pass the Constitutional Amendment to implement an Independent Redistricting Commission. However, this is (at least,) the third ‘deadline’ that the Legislature has given us to end gerrymandering. Parliamentary procedure is made to be confusing for citizens and legislators use it to manipulate us. Bottom-line, aside from deadlines, is that when legislators want to do something, they will make it happen (like when they passed the Voter ID law in a week or voted to give themselves a pay-raise overnight.)
Looking beyond the ‘deadlines', here is what can happen now for redistricting reform:
Pass basic legislation to make our current redistricting process more transparent and fair.
Pursue a constitutional amendment that will take effect in 2023, and then do a mid-decade redistricting.
Explore the possibility that There may still be a way to set up an independent commission by 2021—we are gathering information to see if this is possible.
As we continue to pursue and strategize on these options, we are looking to the future.
FOR THE REMINDER OF 2018 AND INTO 2019, WE WILL BE:
ramping up advocacy for the Gift Ban,
continuing to participate in the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call For A Moral Revival,
building our capacity through canvassing and community events,
& building the infrastructure to pass a wave of new anti-corruption, pro-democracy laws in 2019.