Conklin introduces bill for more oversight on congressional maps

CENTRE COUNTY, Jan. 16 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, today announced a bill that would create a Congressional Redistricting Commission and provide guidelines for the congressional redistricting process.

By amending the Pennsylvania Election Code, H.B. 2020, the Congressional Redistricting Commission would be established each year following a decennial census, as well as require the commission to adhere to redistricting principles created by state and federal law and court precedents.

“The intent of my bill is to put integrity back into the process of redistricting and to insure that congressional districts are drawn by considering the fair and equal representation of the citizens of Pennsylvania rather than the political parties currently drawing maps,” said Conklin, D-Centre.

Last year, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and others filed a lawsuit arguing that the state’s congressional redistricting that took place in 2011 was done in order to maximize the number of Republicans elected within certain districts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now expected to hear oral arguments regarding the case.

Conklin said he would like to see Pennsylvanians have the authority to draw congressional maps, and leave partisanship out of it.

“Over the past year, I have watched partisanship and gridlock in Washington, which have caused divisions in our nation and our commonwealth,” said Conklin, also the Democratic chairman of the Children and Youth Committee. “It has become very clear to me that the political advantage gained through gerrymandering has contributed to the problems in Washington.”

Conklin emphasized the importance of moving the bill ahead of the 2018 primary election.