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State Lawmakers Look To Limit Redistricting Chair's Political Ties

Matt Rourke

Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania's Capitol are agreeing on at least one thing in an otherwise bitter political atmosphere.

Senators gave a unanimous vote in committee on Tuesday on a bill designed to limit the political connections of what could be the deciding member of a panel tasked with redrawing the boundaries of Pennsylvania's 253 legislative districts before the 2022 elections.

Under the bill, the fifth member and chairperson of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission must have voted in two of the last three general elections.

They also, in the last five years, must not have been a registered lobbyist, nominated as a candidate for elective office by a political party or worked for a political entity or public official. Those requirements also apply to a person's spouse.

Under the state Constitution, the panel's first four members are each a partisan as a floor leader of a legislative caucus. The fifth member is appointed by the state Supreme Court if those four members cannot decide on whom to select within 45 days.

In at least the last three decades, the state Supreme Court has been called upon to select the fifth member. In two cases, justices selected a former statewide judge and, in one case, a former federal prosecutor.

The bill still must get approved by both chambers before it can go Gov. Tom Wolf's desk.

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