done by the General Assembly, subject to Governor Corbett's veto power.
Senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, back in January, promised to "make the redistricting process as transparent as possible."
He must have forgotten. In early December, State Rep. Steve Samuelson handed me the Congressional Redistricting bill his committee would be voting on in two days. For each of Pennsylvania's 18 Congressional districts, all it said was this: "The [take your pick] District is composed of a portion of this Commonwealth."
Bill Patton, press secretary to the House Democratic Caucus, explains just how transparent the process has been.
· There were three joint public hearings of the House and Senate State Government committees.
· The hearings took place on May 12 (Philadelphia), June 9 (Butler County), and June 14 (Harrisburg).
· These events occurred more than six months before any member of the public (including most legislators) got to see the actual Republican redistricting plan when it was finally disclosed this week.
· None of the testimony at the hearings addressed the Republican plan.
· A total of 22 people (combined) spoke at the three public hearings.
· Only three speakers appeared at the final hearing in Harrisburg, which lasted 32 minutes.
· The duration of all three hearings (combined) was 3 hours and 18 minutes.
· At the Butler County hearing, both chairmen McIlhinney and Metcalfe confirmed that no actual plan was yet proposed or under consideration. They referred to any maps reported in the media as “purely hypothetical.”
· At the Butler County hearing, Rep. Metcalfe said “Our goal is to produce a final product … that (we) intend on reviewing at another public hearing …” Sen. McIlhinney added: “We’re going to hold a series of hearings, or as many as are needed, to finally do this in an open and clearly visible way in Pennsylvania. … We’re really making a true, honest effort to be very public and forthcoming with this process. … we’re trying to do this in a process that you can clearly see …”
· At the end of the Harrisburg hearing – which was the last public discussion before a map was unveiled this week – Sen. McIlhinney committed to call for “further hearings as needed” and to come back “in the early fall” for additional public discussions on what a map should look like. Rep. Metcalfe chimed in that he looked forward to scheduling an “additional hearing or hearings as needed as we move through the process.”
After six months of public silence, zero public hearings, and a few hurried weeks of clandestine negotiations, on Wednesday morning, Dec. 14 the people of Pennsylvania were finally given access to the genuine article – a Republican congressional redistricting scheme created by Republican Party insiders for the benefit of Republican Party insiders. The claim that public input had any influence on the final Republican plan is pure fiction.