Pennsylvania GOP Submits New Congressional Map to Governor

(CN) – The Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature on Friday night submitted a new statewide map of congressional districts to the state’s Democratic governor. The map is intended to replace a districting plan declared unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Faced with a midnight deadline imposed by the state’s highest court, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, submitted a map that contains substantial changes in the shape of districts encompassing the cities of  Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

In a joint statement posted on Twitter, Scarnati and Turzai said the new pay includes “only 15 split counties (13 less than the 2011 Plan) and includes only 17 split municipalities (49 less than the 2011 Plan). ”

They added that they believe the new map is “compact and constitutional.”

The proposed map “complies fully” with the court’s order, the pair said in a joint statement.

But top Democrats in the state House and Senate are already urging Governor Tom Wolf to reject the plan outright.

“The Republican leadership in both chambers blocked this process, refused to negotiate, and have now submitted a map directly to your office that we have not even seen,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said in a joint letter sent to Wolf shortly after the new GOP-drafted map became public.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the state’s congressional map unconstitutional last month because, it said, the map was gerrymandered to favor Republicans, who control 13 of 18 U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania despite winning votes from roughly half the electorate.

The justices, a majority of whom are Democrats, ordered a new map be put in place in time for this year’s elections and gave the General Assembly until Friday to send a proposed map to the governor. Wolf has until Thursday, Feb. 15 to approve a map and submit it to the court for consideration.

In a statement released Friday night, the governor’s office said “while the Court’s order did not appear to allow for two individuals to draw a map on behalf of the entire General Assembly, Governor Wolf will review Speaker Turzai and President Scarnati’s submission in consultation with the experts retained by the administration to determine his next course of action.

“The original map was fundamentally unfair in a multitude of ways and, from the court’s orders and majority opinion, it is clear the gerrymandering of the current map went beyond manipulating the shape of the districts,” the statement said.

 

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