Rep Josephs is getting our messages but continues to have it wrong


Her office has been overwhelmed with emails and they issued the “stock” response below. Start leaving Voice Messages and continue with emails to her and your own representative.

fromSpizzirri, Marianne <MSpizzirri@pahouse.net>
torecipients <Undisclosed>

dateThu, Jun 12, 2008 at 9:08 AM
subjectResponse from Rep. Babette Josephs – H.B. 2420
mailed-bypahouse.net

hide details 9:08 AM (2 hours ago) Reply
*Due to the volume of letters we have received on H.B. 2420, we apologize for any duplications of this message you may receive.
 
 June 11, 2008
 
Letter transmitted via E-Mail
 
Dear Interested Parties:
 
 Thank you for contacting me about House Bill 2420, legislation designed to take the politics out of the redistricting process. 
 
I, like you, want reform in the General Assembly to move forward, and I share your frustration with legislative and congressional districts that are clearly drawn to protect one particular person or one party.   But we must make sure that what we are doing does not create unintended problems that are worse than what we now have. 
 
I first listed House Bill 2420 for a committee vote, because it was endorsed by organizations for which I have great respect:  the League of Women Voters and Common Cause.  It was not until I had thoroughly analyzed the proposal and discussed it with experts that I realized it was fatally flawed.  I predicted that such a bill might not even be reported out of the State Government Committee.  In fact, a similar bill was tabled by the Senate State Government Committee just last week.  I judged that such a defeat would seriously set reform back, so I removed it from our agenda.
 
I enclose the letter I wrote to the Inquirer explaining my position.
 
As someone cleverly said:  The voters should be selecting the office holders; the office holders should not be selecting the voters.  I agree.
 
Yours,

Babette Josephs
 
BJ:ms
 
enclosure (please see below)
 
 
Letter to the EditorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Babette Josephs
D-Philadelphia
www.babette.org 

 
May 30, 2008
To the Editor:
 
A May 29, 2008, Inquirer editorial scolded me for removing a legislative redistricting bill from the agenda of the State Government Committee, which I chair. A little state history and perspective are in order. The existing constitutional system for redistricting the General Assembly was initiated by the Constitutional Convention of 1967-68. This voter-approved change to the process was hailed by press and governmental reform groups as critically important reform.
 
Forty years later there is undoubtedly room for some improvement so that less oddly shaped, stretched or carved up legislative districts are created. Many government reform groups coalesced around House Bill 2420 which was referred to the State Government Committee only 22 days ago. Sharing their hope for reform of the process, I scheduled a vote on the bill.
 
However, after I analyzed House Bill 2420 more thoroughly and contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau, the office that would be charged with implementing the new procedures, I realized that House Bill 2420 is not reform. Instead it is reform regression.
 
First, as currently drafted, House Bill 2420 would give full and complete authority to a bureaucrat to make hundreds of critical decisions creating new districts, eliminating existing districts and significantly altering many more without any public notice requirements. And furthermore, this faceless paper shuffler is accountable to and controlled by the General Assembly itself. Why would anyone consider this scheme reform?
 
Moreover, the director of this well-respected bureau informed me that his office did not have the expertise to carry out the requirements of this legislation. Additionally, House Bill 2420 proposes that disagreements between dueling redistricting plans be settled by casting lots, essentially reducing critically important policy resolutions to a coin toss. What is reforming about that?
 
Finally, House Bill 2420 has an absolute ban on the use of historical electoral statistics in formulating a legislative district plan. Referencing these statistics is the only way possible to draw legislative districts that are competitive between the political parties. Reformers have said that creating competitive districts is an important public policy value.
 
While I commend the Inquirer for championing changes to the redistricting process, I also know that it must be done right. I am very willing to examine alternative proposals that would improve on the current process for legislative redistricting – unfortunately, the bill that was to be considered is a step backward. Passing a bill, any bill, details be damned, just because it is labeled reform, is not reform.
 
State Rep. Babette Josephs
182nd District
Pa. House of Representatives
 
Marianne Spizzirri, Legislative Assistant II
Rep. Babette Josephs, Majority Chair
House State Government Committee
PA House of Representatives
Room 300, Main Capitol
P.O. Box 202182
Harrisburg, PA  17120-2182
717.787.8529 (phone)
717.787.5066 (fax)
mspizzir@pahouse.net
 

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2 Responses

  1. […] Kill Gerrymandering in PA (A website dedicated to the reform bill, but includes copy of form letters from Rep. Josephs to constituents writing about the issue) […]

  2. […] Kill Gerrymandering in PA (A website dedicated to the reform bill, but includes copy of form letters from Rep. Josephs to constituents writing about the issue) […]

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