Local
5:27 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Reapportionment Fight Brewing in Harrisburg

Pennsylvania Senator Jay Costa (D-Penn Hills) has called the maps presented by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission "purely partisan."

"It's apparent that this secretive process was undertaken to increase partisan performance instead of responding to the needs of the citizens of the commonwealth," said Costa, who is a member of the commission. Jay Costa and Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny County), the other Democrat on that commission, feel that the Republicans on the commission drew the map out of the public eye and then rammed it through the commission.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission is to meet again in Harrisburg on Wednesday to gather public input on the proposed maps.

Costa believes that the districts were drawn not in the best interest of the voters, but in the best interest of the Republican Party. He points to 19 districts that he calls "swing districts" as proof. Costa said that of those 19 Senate Districts, 14 were altered to improve Republican performance, and the other five helped Democrats. "This manipulation is being conducted in a state where, despite Democratic registration advantages, Republicans hold 30 of 50 senate seats," said Costa.

Senator Costa also objected to the splitting of counties to achieve what he believes would be additional Republican advantages. "I challenge my Republican colleagues to explain why it is absolutely necessary to have seven districts run through Montgomery County, or four through Delaware County, or five through Northampton County, or four through Berks County," said Costa. "Manipulating boundaries to achieve political purpose is simply not a constitutional basis for necessity."

The Pennsylvania Constitution calls for the districts to be "compact," "contiguous," and based on population.

Correction: The above story originally reported that Sen. Costa's 43rd Senate District would be shifted to Monroe County if the plan were adopted. That is inaccurate. The 43rd district would remain in Allegheny County. The 45th District would move to Monroe County.