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May 7, 2012 | By | Posted in Legislature

Two PA counties are more divided under new maps

Residents of Clearfield, Monroe voice dissatisfaction
 
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
 
HARRISBURG — The divides, they keep on coming, sort of.
 
Residents of Clearfield and Monroe counties complained Monday that they are more divided under the revised legislative maps than the previous state House and Senate proposals that the state Supreme Court rejected.

 
Kim Kesner, Clearfield County solicitor, said the Legislative Reapportionment Commission divided his county among three House districts in the new revised maps, as opposed to two House districts in the previous proposal. 
                                                                                                                                                              
The change resulted from the commission’s negotiated agreement to move the district of retiring state Rep. Bud George, D-Clearfield, to Chester County. 
 
On the original plan, a House district in Allegheny County was to be relocated to Chester County because of its population growth. By cutting George’s district out of the county, nearby districts had to be stretched to fill in its place, leaving Clearfield County even more divided.
 
However, Clearfield County is an exception. The revised state House and Senate district lines have about 50 percent fewer splits, in keeping with the court’s instructions to reduce the number of divisions.
 
 
Monroe County Commissioner John Moyer said the same problem occurred in his fast-growing northeast county. 
 
 
Moyer said the splits were created to protect state politicians.
 
 
But politics is a part of the redistricting process, because members of the General Assembly draw the new districts.
 
The commission consists of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester; Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny; and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny; and retired state Superior Court judge Stephen McEwen was appointed by the Supreme Court as chairman of the commission.
 
Residents of Harrisburg, the state capital, also are upset about how they were treated by the process.
 
The revised state Senate plan keeps Harrisburg whole, but cuts the city out of the 15th District that it has historically shared with its suburbs in Dauphin and York counties. Instead, the capital city is thrust into the 48th District, dominated by Lebanon County, its largely rural neighbor to the east.
 
Despite the state Supreme Court specifically pointing to the former Harrisburg district in its decision, the revised plan does not adjust the capital city’s new home.
 
“The commission has not complied with the Supreme Court’s instructions,” said Rob Teplitz, who is the Democratic candidate for the 15th District, running to replace retiring state Sen. Jeff Piccola, R-Dauphin.
 
If the revised plan is adopted, Teplitz would no longer fall within the district’s new boundaries.
 
Commission members said they would consider the testimony from the two public hearings before making any changes to the maps and approving them between May 12 and June 12.
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