For the ninth straight census, Pennsylvania is losing at least one Congressional seat. The state gained population in the 2010 census, but other states grew at quicker rates, so instead of 19, the commonwealth will have 18 representatives, beginning in 2013. That puts the focus once again on the redistricting to be done in the coming year.
State Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson says the loss fits into a 90-year trend. “You have to go back to 1920 to find a year where we didn't lose at least one. 1910 we had 36, 1920 we had 36. Every ten years since then we have lost at least one, and most often 2 or 3, members of the US House,” says Arneson. The House and Senate will draw the new districts through the regular legislative process, as opposed to General Assembly redistricting, which is accomplished through a special committee. Arneson says redistricting won't begin until the summer or fall. “Although we have statewide numbers right now, and we know what Pennsylvania's statewide population is, we don't have county, municipal or even precinct-level data. And we need those things to be able to draw Congressional districts.” That work will begin in the fall. Arneson says, “There is no legal deadline for completing the redistricting process, either for Congress or for the state legislative seats. The practical deadline, though, is January of 2012, when people will be circulating petitions to announce that they're going to run for various seats.”