– In order to account for shifts in population, congressional and legislative districts must be redrawn every 10 years to ensure fairness and equal representation for Pennsylvanians. But what if both principles are absent? Rep. Rob Mercuri (R-Allegheny) hosted a House Majority Policy Committee hearing today to discuss how the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s (LRC) redistricting map for the state House impacts communities and their constituencies.
“Fairness and equal representation must be present at all times during this process, and both are currently missing,” Mercuri said. “The House map, approved by the LRC in a 3-2 vote, is a radically redrawn legislative map for the state House in Pennsylvania that fundamentally and unconstitutionally restructures the Legislature to favor a new Democratic majority. No other reason can explain the decades of constitutional redistricting precedent being thrown out the window as no fewer than 12 Republican incumbents were drawn into each other’s districts, pitting them in electoral dog fights next year while only two Democrats were treated similarly.
“This shift drastically swings the structural advantage by registration and voting history to a projected 106-97 for the Democrats vs. the current Republican majority of 113-90 . This would be a historic turn,” Mercuri said. “It is abundantly clear that partisan politics were used during the map’s construction, and this hearing helps us gauge how the people who elected us view these changes.”
Held at the McCandless Town Hall in McCandless, there were 19 total testifiers – 13 of whom testified in person. While some called out the partisanship behind this map, the main message was that disrupting continuity creates widespread issues.
“Splitting, separating and destroying community integrity is only beneficial for those who seek more power, and it is quite obvious with the untimely release of this redistricting plan and the partisan gerrymandering, who this actually benefits,” said Jan K. Lewis of Franklin Park.
“I want to emphasize that this should not be about Republicans and Democrats,” said Libby Blackburn, vice president of the North Allegheny School District Board. “Under the new plan, not only did you divide our district, you actually even divided a township and elementary school within the district! The very township I live in – McCandless Township -- will have two different representatives. How is it possible that families attending a small elementary school would be represented by both the 28th and 30th (district) House of Representatives? Can you imagine how confused voters will be in this area?”
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), one of two members on the LRC who voted against the proposed House map, said ample work lies ahead for the commission.
"Based upon the product developed in the preliminary House map, it was clear that many points about communities of interest were ignored by the people who ultimately drew the plan,” said Benninghoff. “I am glad we were able to hold this hearing to ensure the voices of these communities are heard and Pennsylvanians could discuss their communities in a truly impactful way."
“I would like to thank Rep. Mercuri for hosting this hearing and the testifiers for their tremendous insight on this pressing issue,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter). “We are here to listen and gather valuable information directly from people impacted by the redistricting process. It’s important for their voices to be heard because it affects their representation for the next decade.”
“I would like to also extend my gratitude to all of the testifiers for providing their valuable input on this critical matter,” Mercuri said. “This grueling process will take a collective bipartisan effort to ensure these maps are balanced and competitive, and I look forward to having more constructive debates on how we do just that.”
Mercuri, Benninghoff and Causer emphasized that continued input from the public on the redistricting process remains critical. The deadline for exceptions is Jan. 18. Exceptions can be filed at redistricting.state.pa.us/commission/article/1086
The commission’s maps can be found at redistricting.state.pa.us/maps/
Following the public comment period, the LRC will take a final vote on the map this month ahead of the May primary.
The 28th Legislative District includes boroughs of Bradford Woods and Franklin Park and townships of Marshall, McCandless, and Pine.
Dave’s Redistricting App. Preliminary LRC Map
Representative Robert Mercuri
28th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nate Temple