June 8, 2012 | By | Posted in General News

PA: New district maps moving to Supreme Court


Plans show reduction of county, municipal splits
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters are closer to learning who they can vote for.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission on Friday voted 4-1 for a set of legislative maps that will go to the Supreme Court for approval.
Now, the commission must wait.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said he's confident the House map should meet expectations.
"I think the past decision, given the existing court precedent, was wrong, but I've done my job, and the commission has done its job, and I feel quite strongly that we are well within the bounds of constitutional precedent," Turzai said.
In addition to Turzai, the commission consists of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester; Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny; and retired Superior Court Judge Stephen McEwen, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court as chairman.
Those concerns were addressed in recent revisions. In the House plan, the map shows a reduction of 40 municipal splits, down to 68 from 108 in the remanded plan. In the Senate map, the plan eliminates 19 city ward splits in Philadelphia alone.
Pileggi said the new Senate plan "minimizes the number of political subdivisions and makes districts more compact."
Now that the commission officially has approved the plan, the public has 30 days to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court, before justices will vote on final approval.
However, not all were satisfied with the proposed district lines, citing partisan interests. Costa introduced an amendment to redraw the Senate map in such a way that would eliminate 10 county splits, which was voted down 3-2.
“More importantly, as you look at this map, you will determine that they were all done and connected to enhancing Republican performance in Senate districts,” Costa said.
Costa, who was the lone vote in opposition to the plan, said he was “very disappointed” that maps were “back where it started.”
Dermody said the House map wasn't perfect, but it was constitutional, while addressing the "specific concerns the court expressed in its February opinion."
Holt said she’s not sure if she’ll be filing an appeal, but this round of maps, much like the last, doesn’t stick to the rules of the Constitution, which says population, compactness and contiguousness must dictate district lines.
“The standard here is the Constitution, not necessarily prior plans,” Holt said.
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