On the heels of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision in January that voided the state’s proposed redistricting map, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission has taken another shot at laying out the congressional districts in the Commonwealth.
On April 12, the commission, by a majority vote, approved and filed with the Secretary of State a preliminary reapportionment plan for Pennsylvania.
Among the more noticeable changes in our region with the new attempt is that it no longer takes a major slice out of the Upper Perkiomen Valley and moves it into a legislative district dominated by Lehigh County voters. It now strips almost all of the Upper Perkiomen Valley from its Montgomery County base and moves it from the 147th to the 131st District. Hereford Township, in Berks County, will remain part of the 134th District.
If the plan passes muster this time, the newly drawn legislative districts will not take effect until 2014. Republican Rep. Marcy Toepel currently represents the 147th and Republican Justin Simmons represents the 131st. Both are running for re-election this year in their currently configured districts.
However, if the redistricting plan is approved, Toepel will pick up Upper Pottsgrove and West Pottsgrove but give up East Greenville, Pennsburg, Red Hill and the entirety of Upper Hanover Township to Simmons.
Under the new proposal, Simmons will add those portions of the Upper Perkiomen Valley to the townships of Lower Milford, Salisbury (part), Upper Milford and Upper Saucon townships as well as the boroughs of Coopersburg and Emmaus in Lehigh County and part of Lower Saucon in Northampton Township.
The change will change the Upper Perkiomen Valley from a major voting bloc in upper Montgomery Country to a decided minority in the prominently Lehigh County district. According to available figures, the voters in the Lehigh County area of the district outnumber Montgomery County voters in the planned district by 27,000 to 9,000.
The revised redistricting plan and map for the Senate and House seats of the Pennsylvania General Assembly can be found at www.redistricting.state.pa.us.
A public hearing of the 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be held on May 2, 2012 at 2 p.m. in Hearing Room One of the North Office Building, Harrisburg for the purpose of receiving testimony regarding the revised plan and map. Additional time to hear public comments may be scheduled if it becomes necessary to recess and reconvene the hearing.
Further information can be obtained by contacting Charles E. O’Connor, Jr., Executive Director, at 717-705-6339.