Government
7:56 am
Mon October 31, 2011

Redistricting Committee Submits Rough Map

A preliminary plan to redraw state House and Senate district boundaries could be approved Monday.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, chaired by a nonpartisan judge and the leaders of the four legislative caucuses, is scheduled to vote on proposed redistricting maps.

Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said one or two state Senate districts will likely need to be moved from west to east.

"The population in the western half of the state has declined quite significantly, and the population in the east — starting from south central Pennsylvania through the southeast, and up even into the northeast Poconos region — has experienced a real strong population growth over that time period," said Arneson.

Arneson said several House districts moved from the west to the east in the last redistricting process, but the Senate districts merely "stretched" eastward to gain the requisite population.

The Republican spokesman said moving the Senate districts will be a bit more difficult than House districts – mostly because of the minimum population needed for the two district types.

"Needing to move a district that includes 254-thousand people, which is what a Senate district includes, has a much bigger impact, obviously, than if you're moving a district that includes about 65-thousand people," said Arneson.

A House Democratic spokesman says there are indications Democrats will be disadvantaged by the changes, but House Republicans counter that the proposed boundaries will be fair and legal.

If a rough district map is approved, a 30-day public comment period will begin — a requirement before the commission votes on a final plan.