Mar. 16, 2016
HARRISBURG – Rep. David Parker (R-Monroe) at a Capitol press conference today announced his legislation, House Bill 1835, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a citizen commission to draw legislative and Congressional redistricting maps with updated standards. It would be a more open, transparent process and produce a more inclusive, fair result. Parker’s bill also ensures that no county would ever be carved up into six senate districts as Monroe County was in 2001.
Every 10 years, Pennsylvania’s legislative district boundaries following the results of the national census. The group Parker has joined aims to develop legislation that would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution in a way that would remove the drawing of new districts from the influence of political partisanship.
Here is a transcript of Parker’s remarks at today’s press conference:
“I'm Representative David Parker from Monroe County, where families pay the greatest percentage of their incomes to property taxes in all of Pennsylvania. Where homeowners have seen their American Dream crushed as property values plummet creating the highest foreclosure rate in the state and turning up to 50% of mortgages upside down.
“My county has been the poster child for the problems associated with our system of legislative redistricting. Based on the 2001 redistricting maps, Monroe County was split among six Pennsylvania Senate districts. I guess you could say this was fair to the Senate in that there were 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats. However, since none of them needed a Monroe County vote to win, it was very unfair to the people of Monroe County. Thankfully, this was corrected in the latest round of redistricting. And we now have two senators Sen. Blake and Sen. Scavello. Monroe County had a champion in the House during this period, but if you look at some of these districts, the Monroe County portion resembles a straw, sucking resources from the county to the rest of the district. As a result, we are the only county in the commonwealth that has to split 50% of its gaming allocation with surrounding counties. No other county in the state has to share half their revenue like we do. I don't want to see this happen again, to my county or any county. Which is why we drafted House Bill 1835.
“House Bill 1835 which I am pleased to introduce with my colleague Representative Mary Jo Daley, would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create a citizen commission. The commission would draw legislative and Congressional redistricting maps with updated standards. It would be a more open, transparent process and produce a more inclusive, fair result.
“House Bill 1835 would apply the current state legislative redistricting standards of population equality, maintenance of political subdivisions and compact/contiguous districts to Congressional redistricting. Further, the standards would be enhanced by including such additional requirements as encouraging competitive districts and taking into account communities of interest when drawing district boundaries. Finally, HB 1835 would prevent a repeat of Monroe County’s six-Senate-district-split by tying the number of legislative and senatorial districts more closely to county population numbers.
• A county could not contain more Senate districts that the number required by the population plus one.
• A county could not contain more representative districts than the number required by the population plus two.
“We have 16 cosponsors so far, 8 from each party and hope to gain more after today's press conference. Our bill is also endorsed by the Fair Districts Pa coalition. You can learn more and join the coalition at www.fairdistrictspa.com
Representative David Parker
115th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Charles Lardner