There are better ways of improving government than shrinking the PA House of Representatives
Recently, leaders in the House introduced H.B. 153, a constitutional amendment to shrink the size of the PA House of Representatives from 203 to 151 members.
In order for this amendment to become law, it must pass both the House and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions before being placed on the ballot for voters to make the final decision. H.B.153 was already passed by both the House and Senate last session and will appear on the ballot if approved again this year.
Last session, for a variety of reasons, I voted against H.B. 153, one being because I believe any plan to change the size of the legislature should involve the adoption of a nonpartisan redistricting process. H.B.722 was introduced in May and is a bill that would establish an independent citizen’s commission for the purposes of redistricting. I have been working very hard to get that bill a hearing.
The current method for redistricting, which takes place every 10 years after the U.S. Census, uses a highly partisan method for redrawing state House and state Senate legislative district boundaries.
I will remain a no vote on H.B.153 and we will be discussing this legislation in more depth at many future town halls to ensure that constituents are as informed as possible if the amendment is placed on the November 2018 ballot. This topic has been previously covered in at least two town halls over the past 3 years.
Personally, I believe that if we worked as a part-time legislature, we could accomplish what Pennsylvanians need without spending time and dollars on many non-substantive matters. New Hampshire, for example, has a state House with 400 members and is paid a $100 stipend per year and is indeed part-time. I would be interested in serving as your State Representative in that situation as well.
Speaking of size, and shape too, the PA Supreme Court recently decided Pennsylvania needs to redraw its Congressional boundaries. These boundaries were last drawn after the 2010 census and the result was severely gerrymandered districts. Gerrymandered districts create gridlock and polarization and Congress (and our state legislature too) ends up being populated by too many elected officials who are both ideologically extreme and rigid, on both sides of the aisle. The U.S. Supreme Court has also heard at least one case this session regarding gerrymandering in Wisconsin and has agreed to hear a second case from Maryland. Decisions on these cases are expected later this year.
For the good of our form of government, we need to ensure that when districts are drawn for Congress, or the state Senate, or the House, no one party or political class is unduly favored. I will be paying close attention to these gerrymandering law suits. The results of these cases are related to the effectiveness of competitive districts, and fair, efficient, responsive governance.
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Representative Pamela A. DeLissio serves the 194th Legislative District, which includes East Falls.