Conklin: Republican congressional redistricting legislation a ‘shell game’

Bills passed through State Government Committee on party line vote

HARRISBURG, Dec. 13 – Pennsylvania House Republicans voted on party lines today in the House State Government Committee to advance two pieces of legislation that could redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional boundaries, even though neither bill included an actual map of the new boundaries.

Democratic opposition to the bills was led by the committee’s Democratic chair, state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, who said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to push the legislation through the committee without details.

“I believe that if you’re going to vote on a map, you should actually have a map present,” Conklin said. “If not, it's nothing more than a shell game.”

In Pennsylvania, congressional redistricting is handled as legislation, requiring approval by the state House, Senate and the governor. Conklin said the legislation approved by the committee today would create a situation where the House and Senate, controlled by Republicans, could pass a bill without the consent or input of the governor, leading to a veto.

“At the end of the day, the governor has not been involved in these negotiations. To be totally transparent and to be forthright, I do not believe an un-negotiated bill, no matter what it is, will pass,” Conklin said. “I believe it’s time for us to sit down, be transparent, negotiate with the governor’s office and make sure the bills we pass will be signed into law for the people of Pennsylvania.”

Conklin has spent much of the last year traveling across the state to gather input from Pennsylvanians about how congressional maps should be redrawn, a process which occurs every 10 years following the census. In the committee hearing today, he illustrated the lack of detail in the bills by holding up a blank piece paper.

“This is the map … that we’re voting on,” Conklin said, raising the blank piece of paper. “There’s nothing there. For transparency reasons, I cannot support a bill that doesn’t have a map attached to it. It’s time for us to start negotiating, and we cannot start negotiating by passing a blank map.”