Governor Rendell to Rep Josephs: Please get it done!!


Friday June 13th Gov. Rendell got on board.

 06-13-2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                  CONTACT:   
June 13, 2008                                                                                                  Chuck Ardo
                                                                                                                        717-783-1116
 
In Letter to Legislators, Governor Rendell Endorses Redistricting Reform Legislation
Approval Would be in Time for Next Redrawing of Legislative Boundaries
 
HARRISBURG – Governor Edward G. Rendell today urged the chairmen of the House and Senate State Government committees to consider legislation that would change how Pennsylvania redraws its legislative district boundaries following the federal census.
 
“The Commonwealth’s existing redistricting process undermines democracy by institutionalizing a powerful system of incumbent protection,” Governor Rendell wrote in a letter to Sens. Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), and Reps. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) and Mathew E. Baker (R-Bradford).  “For every vote to truly count, we must have competitive elections where voters have the opportunity to choose between viable candidates.  I am convinced that the only way to ensure meaningful elections is to take politics out of the process of drawing legislative boundaries.
 
“This issue is neither arcane nor academic; how we draw legislative boundaries impacts the daily lives of Pennsylvanians because competitive elections in rationally drawn districts are the only way that voters can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them,” he said.
 
This is not the first time the Governor has called for drastic change in the state’s redistricting process. More than a year ago, at an appearance before the Pennsylvania Press Club, Governor Rendell called for creation of a nine-member citizens’ commission that would be charged with redrawing legislative boundaries.
 
With the citizens’ commission, districts would be required to be drawn based on population; deviations from the most populous to the least populous would not be greater than 8 percent, he said. Also, counties, cities, towns, boroughs and incorporated towns would not be divided unless it became unavoidable.
 
While emphasizing in today’s letter that his support for redistricting is not a criticism of any legislator or legislative body, he again said, “…people should be choosing their representatives, not the other way around.” 
 
By acting now on bills pending before the General Assembly, the Governor said redistricting reform would make it possible to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution and allow changes to be made before district borders are redrawn following the 2010 U.S. Census.
 
Legislative reapportionment wasn’t the only thing the Governor said lawmakers needed to reform last year. He also said changes needed to be made to give the public and the media a wider look at the business functions of state government.
 
In February, after working with the General Assembly, Governor Rendell signed Senate Bill 1 into law and drastically improved the public’s access to state government records. In April, the Governor appointed Terry Mutchler to lead the new Office of Open Records created under the new law.
 
/###
 
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses.  To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of the Governor’s letter follows:
 
Dear Chairmen:
 
            I am writing to express my strong support for redistricting reform legislation such as the bills that are currently in your committees.  Timely consideration of redistricting reform will make it possible to amend the Constitution in time to make necessary improvements before the redistricting that follows the 2010 Census.
 
            The Commonwealth’s existing redistricting process undermines democracy by institutionalizing a powerful system of incumbent protection.  For every vote to truly count, we must have competitive elections where voters have the opportunity to choose between viable candidates.  I am convinced that the only way to ensure meaningful elections is to take politics out of the process of drawing legislative boundaries.  Geographic compactness and population distribution, not the interests of any person or political party, should be the driving forces behind reapportionment.  We should strive to create districts in which the population has a commonality of interests.
 
            This issue is neither arcane nor academic; how we draw legislative boundaries impacts the daily lives of Pennsylvanians because competitive elections in rationally drawn districts are the only way that voters can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them.  Consider the case of the Poconos, where six State Senators share representation for Monroe County – with districts that stretch as far north as the New York border or as far south as Berks County. 
 
            I want to emphasize that my support for redistricting reform is not a criticism of any legislator or legislative body.  As I told the Pennsylvania Press Club in March 2007 when I called for reapportionment to be conducted by a bipartisan citizen’s commission: “The people should be choosing their representatives, not the other way around.” 
 
I hope that your consideration will allow Pennsylvania voters the opportunity to decide for themselves in time for the next reapportionment whether the current system is in their best interests.
 
Sincerely,
Edward G. Rendell, Governor

Published Links:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=2999&PageID=431162&mode=2&contentid=http://pubcontent.state.pa.us/publishedcontent/publish/portlet_templates/templates__det_pt_/enterprise_latest_news_releases/news_releases/in_letter_to_legislators__governor_rendell_endorses_redistricting_reform_legislation.html

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20080613.AQF042&show_article=1&catnum=4

 http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/letter-legislators-governor-rendell-endorses/story.aspx?guid=%7B20AA51D7-D6DE-477F-ADDF-34EB21106562%7D

 http://uspolitics.einnews.com/article.php?nid=490783

 http://www.examiner.com/p-181694~In_Letter_to_Legislators__Governor_Rendell_Endorses_Redistricting_Reform_Legislation.html

 

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