Gov. Wolf creates commission to study redistricting

In this Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

In this Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is establishing a bipartisan panel tasked with finding ways to make the redistricting process in Pennsylvania more fair.

The governor on Thursday signed an executive order to create the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission.

State lawmakers are in charge of drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries, and so control of the maps generally falls to the party in the majority.

The state Supreme Court threw out and redrew Pennsylvania’s congressional district map earlier this year. It had been widely viewed as one of the country’s most-gerrymandered.

Wolf Administration spokesman J.J. Abbott said the governor wants the new commission to look at ways to open up the redistricting process and get citizens involved.

“He wants to do what he can to encourage, you know, looking at every available option out there for how this process could be improved,” Abbott said.

Wolf appointed 11 people to the 15-member commission. The panel is comprised of academics, current and former elected officials and nonprofit leaders.

The remaining four spots are reserved for lawmakers chosen by the majority and minority leaders of the state House and Senate.

Abbott said the members should meet soon to set a schedule for public meetings to be held across the state.

“The goal, in the end, is to provide recommendations that the legislature can consider about how they can enact policies or use technology or data to improve the process,” Abbott said.

Abbott said the hope is to have recommendations to the legislature in time for the next round of redistricting, which will follow the 2020 census.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are dismissing the governor’s executive order as “grandstanding.”

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