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Hearings Begin for Proposed House, Senate Maps

Deadline is Jan. 24; new maps will be used for May primary

By Emily Scott © Public News Service
The Tube City Almanac
January 03, 2022
Posted in: Politics & Elections

With the deadline for approving Pennsylvania’s new voting-district maps fast approaching, the commission in charge of creating House and Senate maps is hosting public hearings this week to receive feedback from residents.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission will host eight hours of public hearings on Thursday and Friday in Harrisburg.

Carol Kuniholm, chair of the advocacy group Fair Districts PA, said creating new maps once a decade based on population changes is never an easy task. She pointed out in the proposed Senate map, there is concern about a pattern of large deviations from the ideal district population, which needs to be addressed.

“When a whole region is under the population by a lot, and a whole region is over the population by a lot, the region that's under population is actually getting more representation,” Kuniholm said. “The region that’s over is losing representation. It should be reflecting the fact that municipalities are not all the same size.”

Four hearings also are scheduled in Harrisburg for Jan. 14 and 15. The hearings will be on Zoom for Pennsylvanians to join virtually. The Department of State has asked the House, Senate and Congressional maps be approved by Jan. 24 to meet deadlines for the May 2022 primary elections.

Kuniholm said the feedback the commission receives from the public is key for helping the five-member body make necessary changes to the maps. She said that if residents can give concrete examples of their community’s needs and why good representation is important, it will be useful.

“If people can make a very specific case for why their specific community needs attention, that's a really good comment to offer,” Kuniholm said. “The school district that’s been really badly underfunded and is really struggling to get back on its feet — that kind of testimony is really helpful.”

The commission is accepting public comment on the House and Senate maps through Jan. 18, and Pennsylvanians can provide written testimony on the commission’s website.

Emily Scott is a reporter and producer in Philadelphia for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. She previously worked at WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station and is a 2018 graduate of Temple University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Originally published January 03, 2022.

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