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Pennsylvania legislative maps draw legal challenge over Butler County's division

Pennsylvania Redistricting
Matt Rourke
Chairman Mark Nordenberg, center, speaks during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. The commission voted Thursday in favor of new preliminary district maps over sharp objections from the House's Republican leader about how his chamber's district lines would change. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A new legal filing claims redrawn district maps for the state House of Representatives improperly carved up a western Pennsylvania county.

The lawsuit docketed on Tuesday focuses on changes made to Butler County in district lines approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission earlier this month.

The plaintiffs are Ryan Covert, a Republican who hopes to run for a Butler County state House district; Darlene Covert, his mother; and a third Butler resident, Erik Hulick. The commission is the defendant.

People have more than two weeks left to take their objections to the General Assembly maps to the state Supreme Court. Additional challenges are expected, likely including from state House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Centre County Republican.

Benninghoff cast the lone “no” vote when the Legislative Reapportionment Commission approved the revised maps by a 4-1 vote.

The lawsuit notes Butler County was divided into three legislative districts under the preliminary House map advanced in December, but the final map approved Feb. 4 split it into four districts.

The plaintiffs claim the final House map makes Butler County residents “victims of excessive partisan or political classifications and other circumstances orchestrated to protect incumbent state representatives.”

It calls the House map an unconstitutional political gerrymander.

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