Redistricting

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After a year of campaigning and months of legislative debate, it’s likely too late for state lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process before the next map-redrawing gets underway in 2021.

So now, reform advocates are exploring alternative options.

Critics of the map-drawing methods for congressional and state legislative districts have spent months insisting state lawmakers have too much power over the process—and saying that leads to political gerrymandering and incumbent protection.  

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

An anti-gerrymandering advocacy group wants Gov. Tom Wolf to call a special session urging lawmakers to pass a resolution to amend the state constitution and create a citizens' redistricting commission.

The group, March On Harrisburg, said Tuesday that it's delivering a letter to the Democratic governor. Wolf's office had no immediate comment. Lawmakers left the Capitol on Monday, with no plans to return this summer.

Left undone is a resolution to create a citizens' commission that's designed to draw legislative and congressional boundaries free of political interference.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Efforts to overhaul the state’s redistricting process are faltering.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to again consider the legality of new congressional district boundaries imposed earlier this year by the state's highest court in a gerrymandering case.

Matt Rourke / AP

When Senators passed a proposal this week aimed at creating a citizen’s commission to draw Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, they tacked on an amendment that would fundamentally change the state’s appellate courts by electing judges based on regional district, instead of statewide.

It’s not a unique concept for state courts to be arranged that way.

However, Pennsylvania’s specific form of judicial election-by-district is significantly less common than supporters have indicated.

Katie Meyer / WITF

When Senators passed a proposal  this week aimed at creating a citizen's commission to draw Pennsylvania's congressional maps, they tacked on an amendment  that would fundamentally change the state's appellate courts by electing judges based on regional district, instead of statewide.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Several advocacy groups are pulling their support for a redistricting bill making its way through the state legislature. On Tuesday, Republicans in the state Senate added an amendment to Senate Bill 22 that would transform the way state judges are elected in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After hours of debate, the state Senate has amended a high-profile redistricting overhaul, and is on track to send it to the House Wednesday.

The bill has transformed dramatically since its inception—alienating some Democratic supporters along the way.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Few concrete details are leaking out of Senate lawmakers’ feverish negotiations on a sweeping bill to overhaul the commonwealth’s redistricting process.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

After more than a year of on-and-off negotiation, the state Senate has moved a congressional redistricting overhaul to the floor of the full chamber.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

On Tuesday, a state House bill that would overhaul congressional map-drawing was assigned to an unusual committee—circumventing a different panel where such proposals have repeatedly been struck down.

It’s the latest in a series of spasms toward changing Pennsylvania’s oft-disparaged redistricting process.

But lawmakers are quickly running out of time to close the deal.

The new bill is the brainchild of Dave Reed—the GOP majority leader who is departing the House at the end of this year.

June Is Final Frontier For Pennsylvania Redistricting Bill

Jun 4, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

An issue that, for years, had little oxygen keeping it alive could become the talk of Pennsylvania's Capitol during June's long, humid days of budget-making.

Some top Republican lawmakers have joined an effort to overhaul how Pennsylvania draws its legislative and U.S. House district boundaries, now that the state's highest court dealt those same Republican lawmakers a stinging loss in a congressional gerrymandering case that made national headlines.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Activists in other states are looking to Pennsylvania’s redistricting case as they attempt to get their own congressional districts overturned.

In particular, lawyers involved in an Ohio case say their situation has a lot in common with the one in the commonwealth.

The Ohio lawsuit differs from Pennsylvania’s in that it’s a federal matter, not a state one.

But attorney Freda Levenson, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, said a lot of the principles underlying the situations are the same—and that means the successful PA suit is a learning opportunity.

PA Lawmakers Advance Redistricting Reforms As June Deadline Looms

May 23, 2018
Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania lawmakers have advanced a bill that would change the state’s constitution to put its congressional district map in the hands of a citizen commission, one whose 11 members would be chosen by elected officials.

Mary Wilson / WITF

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is throwing his weight behind a few measures that have, of late, been more commonly championed by Democrats.

The top Republican official, of Cameron County, said in a wide-ranging speech Monday that he wants to see the redistricting process overhauled, and also switch the commonwealth to open primaries.

Scarnati made it clear, his anger over the state Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate and redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional map hasn’t abated.

On Primary Day, Both Parties Agree New Congressional Map May Cause Confusion

May 14, 2018
Joseph Kaczmarek

Days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, about 25 Democrats gathered for a meeting a few blocks away from the border of two recently reshaped congressional districts in North Philadelphia.

On a table with campaign literature, flyers that said, “re-elect Congressman Dwight Evans” were neatly tucked away and replaced with others that support Congressman Brendan Boyle.

Matt Rourke / AP

In recent weeks, proponents of overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process with an independent citizens’ commission have been frustrated as their bills have been repeatedly gutted by the Republican majority in a prominent state House committee.

But now, those advocates may be getting an unexpected new ally in House GOP Leader Dave Reed, who told reporters Tuesday, this is an issue he wants to address before he departs the legislature at the end of this year.  

Currently, congressional redistricting is done by the legislature, and the governor signs off on it.

Matt Rourke / AP

For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process.

Matt Rourke / AP

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati may not have to pay more than $29,000 out of pocket for legal fees in a redistricting case.

At least, not yet.

A federal judge has put a hold on the order he made after deeming the GOP lawmaker’s actions in the case frivolous.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawyers for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have filed an appeal to a federal court decision that the Republican must personally pay more than $29,000 for legal fees in a high-profile redistricting case.

The GOP lawmaker officially has 14 days to pay—but his chief counsel said he has no intention of doing so.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

House GOP Backs Plan To Give Majority More Districting Power

Apr 12, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Republicans on a Pennsylvania House committee voted on Wednesday to give more power over redistricting to the majority party in the Legislature, breathing life into efforts to substantially change how General Assembly and congressional districts are drawn.

PA Legislature Has Long History Of Inaction On Redistricting Reform Bills

Mar 29, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Now that legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s new court-drawn congressional map have been rejected, state lawmakers have turned their attention to the typical process by which the state reapportions congressional districts every decade.

But some stakeholders are skeptical about whether any current proposals will ever make it to a vote.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

A new poll shows Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democrats are in a strong position ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

It found 43 percent of voters in the Franklin and Marshall College survey believe Governor Tom Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in office, compared with 38 percent in a similar poll in September.

The boost came primarily from Democrats and Independents.

F&M’s Berwood Yost said it could be due to a lot of things.

For one, it might be disapproval of President Donald Trump—who has a steady 30 percent approval rating in the poll.

Report: Democrats Would Need Huge Wave To Win U.S. House

Mar 27, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A report released Monday suggests Democrats might have to temper their enthusiasm about climbing back to power during this year's midterm elections.

To win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats would need a tremendous electoral wave not seen in more than 40 years to overcome Republican advantages from gerrymandered districts in key states, according to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's Democratic governor wants legislation to let people register to vote on the day of elections and loosen the state's strict rules for absentee ballots.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday everyone who gets a license from the state Department of Transportation or signs up for a public service should be automatically registered to vote, unless they specifically opt out.

Wolf's wish list from the Republican-controlled Legislature also includes limits on how much donors can contribute to political candidates and improvements to how donations are reported.

Another Key Redistricting Case Goes In Front Of High Court

Mar 26, 2018
supremecourt.gov

The Supreme Court has already heard a major case about political line-drawing that has the potential to reshape American politics. Now, before even deciding that one, the court is taking up another similar case.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


Most of the candidates who intend to run in Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 14th Congressional District to the south and east of Pittsburgh don’t actually live there.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Google Maps


In the wake of Tuesday’s special election in the 18th Congressional District, attention has quickly turned to the district that could soon replace the 18th – the 14th District.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

A fraught redistricting battle in Pennsylvania has taken a small step forward.

A panel of three federal judges heard arguments Friday in a case over whether the commonwealth’s Supreme Court violated the federal constitution when it redrew congressional maps last month.

Both the plaintiffs and defendants acknowledged, the case doesn’t have any direct precedent.

Lawyers for two Republican state Senate leaders and eight GOP congressmen contended that the state court usurped the legislature’s power.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The battle over how to handle Pennsylvania’s congressional maps has even political families divided.

 

Former governor Dick Thornburgh has filed a brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing a new congressional map drawn by the state Supreme Court should be invalidated.

 

But the governor’s son, David, has called that map an “improvement” on the old one.

 

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