GOP plan for Pa. assembly seats passes early vote

November 1, 2011 2:18:50 AM PDT
A panel charged with drawing new district lines for the Pennsylvania House and Senate divided along partisan lines Monday as a Republican-written proposal that shifted seats from west to east gained preliminary approval by a 3-2 vote.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission voted to move a freshman Democrat's Senate seat in Allegheny County to fast-growing Monroe County. The plan also would add House seats in Allentown, Berks County, Chester County and York County, all in the state's eastern half, while cutting out existing districts in Erie and Philadelphia and two in Allegheny County.

Democrats called the proposals politically partisan and said they hoped the details will change before a final plan is adopted in the coming months.

"It has to do with institutionalizing a Republican majority, which we will not stand for," said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny.

The Republican and Democratic floor leaders in the two chambers split, leaving the deciding vote to Stephen J. McEwen Jr., president judge emeritus of the state Superior Court and the fifth member of the commission.

A month of public comment is ahead, including a meeting on Nov. 18, after which the commission will have another month to enact a final plan.

This marks the fifth time since 1970 the state has used a commission to redraw district boundaries.

A separate process is employed to revise the state's congressional districts to account for census changes. Those changes are handled by legislation and will have to account for the loss of a seat, reducing the state's delegation from 19 to 18.

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Online: GOP plan for Pa. assembly seats


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