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Politics & Government

Leaders Deadlock On Final Member Of District-Drawing Panel

Matt Rourke

The Republican and Democratic floor leaders of the Pennsylvania House and Senate said Friday they can't agree who should be the tie-breaking fifth member of the panel that will redraw the state's legislative district lines.

The announcement means the chairperson of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission will be selected by the state Supreme Court, which currently has a 5-2 Democratic majority.

The four leaders told Chief Justice Max Baer in a letter that they were “unable to find consensus” after interviewing dozens of applicants. The leaders wrote Baer on the 45th and final day they had to choose their own chairperson. The justices now have a month to pick one for them.

The joint letter from Republican leaders Sen. Kim Ward of Westmoreland County and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff of Centre County, and Democratic leaders Sen. Jay Costa and Rep. Joanna McClinton's suggests what criteria the court should use.

They asked the justices to pick someone who will be a “fair and neutral arbiter" who has “some distance from the political process” and who has no interest in running for a seat in the Legislature.

The 253-member General Assembly currently has significant Republican majorities in both chambers.