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Commission Okays New Redistricting Map For Pennsylvania House & Senate

The five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission this afternoon approved a second plan to redraw the legislative districts in the commonwealth.

The commission, comprised of the House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders and chaired by retired State Superior Court Judge Stephen McEwen, met Friday in Harrisburg and approved the latest maps more than four months after the state Supreme Court struck down its first one.

Reacting to a suit filed by Senate Democrats, the high court said the first plan split too many municipalities and created too many poorly shaped districts.

As expected, the new plan moves the Pittsburgh-area seat of recently resigned and jailed Republican Jane Orie across the state to Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania, which has experienced a surge in population.

However, Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny County) said he's disappointed by this second map, which he saud contains a number of unnecessary county splits for political purposes.

"Unfortunately, we are right back to where we started when the Supreme Court rejected the previous gerrymandered map. Incredibly, in the face of clear guidance from the court and provisions of the state constitution, the commission adopted another gerrymandered map," Costa said.

According to Costa, the two Republicans on the commission applied different data when they drew eastern and western Pennsylvania districts to benefit their party.

"The final map is the product of a broken and bewildering process in
which the public was ignored and negotiation was illusory," Costa said. "The map is a total disappointment."

Costa did not rule out another Supreme Court challenge.