Pa. House Approves Proposed Congressional map as Court Challenges Loom

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While the map fulfills basic fairness criteria set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Gov. Tom Wolf — who has final say over the map — recently said it does not reflect the partisan makeup of the state. TIM TAI / Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House has advanced a new congressional map that nonpartisan analysts say has a clear Republican advantage, but its fate remains unclear as a court-mandated deadline looms.

The map, which will help determine the balance of power in Washington, passed with support from all but two of the chamber’s Republicans and from none of the Democrats. It now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

While the map fulfills basic fairness criteria set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Gov. Tom Wolf — who has final say over the map — recently said it does not reflect the partisan makeup of the state.

Adam Podowitz-Thomas of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes district maps across the country, said metrics that social scientists use to analyze partisan bias show Pennsylvania’s current proposal leans toward Republicans.

“I don’t believe that Gov. Wolf is going to end up signing,” he said. “I think that the partisan bias is too clearly in favor of the Republicans.”

If Wolf and the legislature do not agree on a final plan by Jan. 30, Commonwealth Court said it will take over the process as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

The map advanced Wednesday was selected by Republicans on the House State Government Committee and based on a plan drawn by Amanda Holt, a former Republican Lehigh County commissioner and noted redistricting activist.

The initial map, however, was adjusted after several Republicans on the committee complained that their counties were split. The amended map advanced out of committee to the full House without public feedback.

(By Kate Huangpu of Spotlight PA)

This article is part of a yearlong reporting project focused on redistricting and gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. It is made possible by the support of Spotlight PA members and Votebeat, a project focused on election integrity and voting access.

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