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Redistricting Overhaul Crumbles Under Hundreds Of Amendments

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 (Harrisburg) -- Efforts to overhaul the state’s redistricting process are faltering.

Earlier this month, the legislature looked like it might be on track to approve a sweeping plan to establish a citizen’s commission to draw the maps — plus change how Pennsylvania elects judges.

It passed the Senate, but the House never seemed to find any consensus on how to approach the issue.

Now House Republican Leader Dave Reed, who supports an overhaul, is saying the issue has been buried under hundreds of amendments filed this week.

“I knew there would be some amendments,” he said. “I never, in my wildest dreams, would think folks would come up with 700-some amendments. It’s disappointing, in my mind.”

The amendments piled up quickly—ballooning from six Thursday morning to hundreds Friday.

Reed has spent the last two months insisting enough House lawmakers are unhappy with the redistricting process that they might reach consensus on the issue.

But he acknowledged, they haven’t gotten there.

“It seems there are certain individuals who don’t want to see this process move forward,” he said.

It's not uncommon for lawmakers to use amendment-overload to bury contentious bills.

Reed expressed optimism the measure might get revived eventually—but it looks unlikely to happen in time for it to take effect before the next redistricting process in 2021.

The bill would have to pass by July 6 for that to happen. And with lawmakers on the verge of finishing a budget, they’re unlikely to schedule enough sessions before Fall to take up other issues.

Katie Meyer covers politics, policy, power, and elections at every level of government, with the goal of showing how it all affects people’s lives. Before coming to Philadelphia, she covered state politics as Harrisburg bureau chief for WITF, and hosted the station’s politics podcast. She got her start in public radio in the Bronx, at Fordham University station WFUV. She’s from upstate New York.
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