Monday, April 4, 2011

PA Legislative Reapportionment Committee Fails to Pick Fifth

The four legislative caucus leaders were unable to choose a fifth and final member for the Legislative Reapportionment Committee by midnight April fourth sending the task to the PA Supreme Court. The fifth member must be a resident of Pennsylvania.

The committee is charged with redrawing the state legislative districts based on the latest census numbers. The committee does not redraw the congressional districts, that task is the responsibility of the full house and senate.

State Senator Jay Costa of Forest Hills is a member of the committee due to his position as Senate Democratic Leader. He says the committee interviewed fifteen candidates over the last few weeks but could not come to a consensus on which one to choose. However, he stopped short of calling it a partisan issue. “We were impressed with the candidates that came forward but it’s a very complicated and complex issue to deal with and difficult to sometimes reach a consensus,” says Costa.

The fifth member becomes the chair of the committee. Costa says he is not concerned that the four caucus leaders could not pick a fifth member. “Three of the last four years that there has been a reapportionment there always have been, depending on who you talk to, the court has made exceptional selections,” says Costa.

The only time the caucus leaders have been able to agree on a fifth members since the 1970 census was in 1981. The court now has until May 4th to name a chairman for the committee. The committee’s work is then expected to be done near the end of 2011 and voters will make selections in the new districts in 2012.

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