Pennsylvania Senate Committee refuses to support fair voting


Following the disappointing performance of the House, today the Senate State Government Committee tabled SB346, which means it is not yet out of committee. See press release below. Please take a minute to comment on your reaction to reading this. We want to energize a committed group who can continue to work on the legislature to provide fairness for us citizens (feeling like chumps right now!)

News from:                                                     
            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Common Cause/PA                                                      June 3, 2008
League of Women Voters of PA
 
For Information Contact:
Barry L. Kauffman, Executive Director, CC/PA
717-232-9951 or ccpa@dejazzd.com
Bonita Hoke, Executive Director, LWV/PA
717-234-1576 or bchoke@palwv.org
 
 
SENATE SIDETRACKS ESSENTIAL REFORM BILL AS CLOCK RUNS DOWN
 
Government Integrity Organizations Fear Unified Effort by Legislative Leaders
Will Block Competitive Elections and Protect Incumbents
 
Led by Minority Chairman Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) the Senate State Government Committee tabled SB-346, a bill designed to end the massive gerrymandering abuses in Pennsylvania.  The four Democratic members of the committee were joined by three Republican members in the vote to table the bill.  This action could spell the death of this essential reform measure which faces a mid-July deadline for passage.  Committee chairman, Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), offered a strengthening amendment to the bill sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh).
 
Meanwhile, in the House, State Government Committee Chairman Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) pulled a similar bill (HB-2420) from the voting calendar last Thursday.  Rep. Steve Samuelson, (D-Lehigh) who drafted this compromise measure by compiling the best elements of all other related bills has been attempting to get the bill rescheduled for debate and vote, but has been unsuccessful.
 
“This is one of those key issues wherein the leaders of both parties unite against the voters to ensure that lawmakers will be able to continue to pick their voters, thus eliminating choices on the ballot, making elections less competitive and ultimately government less accountable” said Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause/PA.
 
Bonita Hoke, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters agreed by saying
“Pennsylvania reputedly is the second worst state in the nation, after Georgia, for contorting the shape of legislative districts to protect incumbents and party stronghold.”  The League of Women Voters of PA and Common Cause/PA have been working for nearly two decades to end this decennial abuse of power by legislative leaders.  The reform measures would depoliticize the redistricting process, and protect the integrity of natural communities in the state.  “In the end the voters and taxpayers are the winners if these redistricting reforms are enacted.  Accountable government can be achieved only when we have competitive elections, and competitive elections can be achieved only when Pennsylvania institutes a fair non-partisan redistricting system.”

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