As state lawmakers prepare to draw new legislative districts in Pennsylvania this year based on the latest census data, government reform advocates are calling for a more transparent process.
The special committee of four lawmakers and one outsider will be chosen by May, and they’ll have until October to develop a draft plan for new State House and Senate districts.
Advocates from the League of Women Voters and other watchdog groups want a nonpartisan panel to draw districts in the future.
Barry Kauffman of Common Cause PA points out other states are taking this approach.
"In California they have a new system, which is going to be very interesting to watch, where regular citizens can apply to be in the commission. I think there’s 14 members. There’s five Democrats, there’s five Republicans, and four have to be from other parties, or independents."
Olivia Thorne, the president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, wants the process to be more transparent.
"Notices of commission and committee meetings, public hearings, transcripts of testimony presented at public meetings and any written testimony would be posted on the Internet, and otherwise would be available to the public within 48 hours of being received."
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says you can’t completely remove politics from the process.
"Well someone’s going to appoint this independent commission or any commission. I don’t think it’s possible, as long as human beings are drawing these lines, to separate political considerations from the redistricting process."
Pileggi says lawmakers will hold hearings across the state this year, and will post redistricting information and maps on a special website.
Congressional districts will be re-drawn this year, too, but that happens through the regular legislative process.