HARRISBURG – The Senate State Government Committee has passed a bill that would establish new, nonpartisan qualifications for the Legislative Reapportionment Chair with unanimous, bipartisan support, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), the chair of the committee. The bill would require that the chair have no previous political ties due to the controversial nature of the reapportionment process.
“Gerrymandering—the artificial manipulation of political boundaries to aid individuals or political parties—has been a problem in this state and this nation for hundreds of years, dating back to the 1700s,” said Argall. “Today, we took one small step to begin to roll back the sins of the past.”
The bill would establish the following qualifications for the Legislative Reapportionment Chair: the candidate must have voted in at least two of the last three elections, not have registered as a lobbyist in the past five years, not been nominated as a candidate in the past five years, not served as a staff member or officer of a political party in the past five years, and not have served as a staff member of an elected official in the past five years. The Commission chair would also be required to file a financial disclosure report prior to taking office and one year after leaving office.
Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), the Minority Chair of the committee, spoke in favor of this bill due to its ability to increase transparency in the reapportionment process and inspire confidence in the final map that will determine legislative districts for the next ten years. This bill was also supported by both Fair Districts PA and the Committee of 70, two of the largest organizations that advocate for legislative reapportionment reform.