Pennsylvania Lawmakers Concentrate on Congressional Map

Monday, 05 Dec 2011 04:39 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had several plans for his first year in office, but the state’s legislators have put most of his agenda items on hold in favor or redrawing the state’s congressional districts.

Corbett’s agenda included paring down the state’s budget, introducing school tuition vouchers, and privatizing the state’s liquor stores — but with just weeks left in 2011, only the pared-down state budget has been passed, said the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Corbett also favors Senate Republicans’ plans to set a fee on natural gas drilling from the Marcellus Shale deposits, another plan that is on hold.
“Everything else is off the table,” said Steve Miskin, spokesman for Republican House Majority leader Mike Turzai. “Congressional redistricting is the priority.’
The latest census figures have brought about the once-a-decade redistricting, as Pennsylvania will now have one fewer district, bringing the number of seats from 19 to 18. Republican incumbents currently hold 12 seats, while Democrats hold 7.
A similar process reconfiguring state legislative districts is nearing completion, with commission members to take a final vote on how 203 House and 50 Senate districts will be shaped.
Both processes could face court challenges; 10 years ago, the Pennsylvania congressional map, also configured by Republicans, was contested all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was upheld.
Even though the other bills are on hold, they probably will still be considered in 2012 because the General Assembly’s two-year session doesn’t end until next December.

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