Pennsylvania House and Senate Republican leaders sent a new congressional district map to Gov. Tom Wolf Friday night, according to Neal Lesher, a spokesman for Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai.
If approved, the newly shaped districts would greatly change the national political landscape in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Congressman Mike Kelly would continue representing Erie County, but his 3rd Congressional District would cover all of the county. Currently, he shares Erie County with Congressman Glenn Thompson and the 5th Congressional District.
Crawford County would be split seemingly down the middle under the new proposal, with Kelly taking the western portion and Thompson taking the eastern portion. Thompson already represents parts of southeastern Crawford County and has an office in Titusville.
Warren, Venango and Forest counties are also included under Thompson's 5th District under the proposal.
The map was drafted by House and Senate Republican staff, according to Lesher, led by Speaker Turzai (R-McCandless) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway). "We are going to take the next couple days to (assess) our options going forward while we await feedback from the Governor," Lesher said in an email Friday evening.
State GOP leaders said the revised map fully complies with the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court's order to redraw the districts for the 2018 election. Any splits, they say, are due to differences in population of otherwise keeping the county wholly intact. The proposed map includes 15 split counties, 13 less than the 2011 plan; and 17 split municipalities, 49 less than the 2011 plan.
"The submitted map also complies with the Voting Rights Act and the concerns recently expressed by the NAACP, and the First and Second Districts in this map are substantially similar in racial composition to the 2011 Plan's First and Second Congressional districts," according to a statement on Scarnati's website.
The state Supreme Court threw out the commonwealth's current map of congressional districts, calling it a case of partisan gerrymandering, Jan. 22.
The Republican-controlled state legislature were given until Friday (Feb. 9) to re-draw the map. Gov. Wolf must approve it and submit the new plan to the Pa. Supreme Court by Feb. 15 or the court said it will re-draw the map. Lawmakers did not vote on the plan, and it's unclear whether or not they will next week now that the proposal has been submitted to Wolf. The Court formally offered a majority opinion just this Wednesday.
"While the Court's order did not appear to allow for two individuals to draw a map on behalf of the entire General Assembly, Gov. 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," Wolf Press Secretary J.J. Abbott said in a statement Friday night.
The revised version comes after a group of 18 Democratic voters backed by the Pa. League of Women Voters argued the maps drawn in 2011 violates Pennsylvania's Constitution. Thirteen of the commonwealth's 18 Congressional districts are held by Republicans, despite more than 817,000 registered Democrats living in Pennsylvania, according to the Pa. Department of State.
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