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Preliminary Redistricting Map Approved, but Not Good Enough

Redistricting HearingThe Legislative Reapportionment Commission on April 12 approved a preliminary plan to redraw House and Senate district lines. I am a member of the commission and voted against the plan.

Listen to Sen. Costa's comments
on the plan

I believe it is important to move the process forward – and there were many meetings and negotiations with commission members – but the plan that was approved just didn’t meet the needs of the citizens of the Pennsylvania. In good conscience, I simply could not approve the plan. plan Download Map
Download Preliminary Plan

Allegheny County Senate Districts

The plan makes a number of sweeping changes in the Senate district lines in Allegheny County and throughout the state. The plan, approved on a 4-1 vote, takes the 40th District which is currently based in Allegheny County and moves it to the Poconos.

The Preliminary Plan calls for my Senate district to include the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Oakland, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, Hazelwood, Glen Hazel, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Southside Slopes and Flats, Carrick, Hays, Lincoln Place among others.

The plan also retains most of the East Hills communities that are now in my district with the addition of Monroeville in eastern Allegheny County. My district would also encompass Homestead, West Homestead, West Mifflin and Whitaker along with other municipalities. The full legal description of the district can be found here along with information about other districts.

Senator Jay CostaEarlier this year following the approval of the previous reapportionment by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, I petitioned the state Supreme Court asking that the final reapportionment map be overturned. I reasoned then that the districts drawn in that map were gerrymandered for raw, partisan political purposes and that too many municipalities were split, contrary to the provisions in the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The previous configuration took a Mon Valley-based district and moved it to the Poconos. I believe that this sliced through the Mon Valley’s unique and traditional community-of-interest and the plan would be harmful for the citizens of Allegheny County.

The court agreed with my argument and others who objected to the plan and ordered that the Legislative Reapportionment Commission go back to the drawing board. They required that the commission design legislative districts that are compact, contiguous and do not unnecessarily split counties or municipalities.

Listen to Sen. Costa's comments about the value of a Mon Valley DistrictListen

The preliminary map that was approved last week -- while unsatisfactory on a number of accounts -- did retain the Mon Valley-based Senate seat of my colleague from McKeesport, Sen. Jim Brewster. Under the new design that was approved, the seat remains in Allegheny County but now stretches through the Mon Valley and into the South Hills. It also pulls a few municipalities from Washington County. However, retaining the seat based in the Mon Valley is good news for our region.

While this is an exceptionally positive result for Allegheny County, nonetheless there were other problems with the plan that was presented. I attempted to offer a plan that met Constitutional guidelines and was fair and balanced.

Senate Democratic Preliminary Plan

Download Map | Download Senate Democratic Plan Legal Description

Listen to Sen. Costa's comments about the reapportionment process. Listen

That plan was debated but failed on a 2-3 vote.

The plan that was approved as the Preliminary Plan is now subject to a 30 day public comment period. In addition, there will be a public hearing on the plan now scheduled for May 2. If citizens are interested in submitting exceptions to the plan or offering comments, they may do so in writing or making a presentation at the hearing. Details on how you can send comments or be scheduled to appear before the Commission are included in the news release from the commission.

Listen to Sen. Costa's comments about the 30 day comment period Listen

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission will hold a public hearing on May 2, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in Hearing Room One - North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA.

The 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission will hold a Public Hearing on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in Hearing Room One of the North Office Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120 to invite comment upon the Preliminary Reapportionment Plan, which was filed with the Department of State on April 12, 2012. Additional time to hear public comments may be scheduled if it becomes necessary to recess and reconvene the Hearing of May 2, 2012.
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Also, remember, state House of Representatives districts were also redrawn and must be approved by the commission. The lines for the 203 House districts also changed. The Preliminary House plan is also subject to public scrutiny in the 30 day comment period.

It is very important for citizens to become involved. One of the reasons the state Supreme Court rejected the previous plan and found it unconstitutional was that citizens voiced their opposition to the plan.

I invite you to learn more, participate and provide meaningful feedback on the plan. Please contact me know if you have any questions or need more information.


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For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook