Washington, D.C. — Pennsylvania has some of the most skewed partisan gerrymandered congressional districts of any state, and its state legislative districts have also been distorted by partisan gerrymandering—preventing Pennsylvania voters from being fairly represented by their legislators, a new state analysis released today by the Center for American Progress concludes.
Despite President Donald Trump only winning 48.2 percent of the Pennsylvania vote in 2016, Republicans maintained control of 59 percent of seats in the state House of Representatives and 68 percent of seats in the state Senate. And because legislators are shielded from accountability even while being unresponsive to voters, a slew of key policies supported by Pennsylvania voters have not been enacted. According to the analysis in “How Distorted Districts Lead to Distorted Laws in Pennsylvania,” the policies supported by voters but not enacted by legislators include:
- Gun violence prevention: A majority of Pennsylvania voters support stricter gun control laws and an even larger majority, 95 percent, support a requirement for universal background checks. Instead, the state Senate passed a law allowing teachers to carry firearms on school grounds.
- Civil rights: While 78 percent of Pennsylvanians support the passage of a nondiscrimination law on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the state Legislature has refused to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act despite its reintroduction every year.
- Minimum wage: In 2016, a poll found that 76 percent of voters in Pennsylvania support an increase in the minimum wage. Though there is strong public support for the increase, the legislative majority obstructed any legislative action, maintaining the wage of $7.25 per hour.
- Tax fairness: Of all the natural gas producing states in the country, Pennsylvania is the only one that does not impose a severance tax on gas companies. Seventy percent of voters would like to see the tax imposed, yet the Legislature has refused to pass it.
“Pennsylvanians have a right to fair representation. Extreme partisan gerrymandering discriminates against targeted voters and prevents progress on solutions that majorities of voters support such as common sense gun violence prevention and increases in minimum wage,” said Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center. “Voters should choose their legislators, rather than legislators choosing their voters, and Pennsylvania legislators must advance bi-partisan bills to adopt an independent citizens’ redistricting commission to prevent these continuing abuses.”
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