State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Compromise unlikely between Wolf, GOP as redistricting deadline nears

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 15, 2018 6:20 AM
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Wolf has rejected a GOP-proposed congressional map. He said he has not decided whether he'll submit his own to the state Supreme Court Thursday. (Photo by AP)

 

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(Harrisburg) - Thursday is the final day for Governor Tom Wolf to submit a redrawn congressional map to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

If any map is submitted, it almost certainly won't be a compromise; talks between Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature have largely disintegrated.

When justices declared the commonwealth's congressional districts unconstitutional last month, they gave the House and Senate three weeks to fix and submit a map to Wolf, and the governor six days after that to file one with the court.

Wolf rejected the legislature's proposal Tuesday, saying it was still a Republican gerrymander.

In a letter to GOP lawmakers, Wolf cited concerns that included the fact their map employs "packing," "cracking," and "splitting." Respectively, those methods involve squeezing densely-populated areas into small districts, connecting cities to rural areas--here, Wolf cited Republican treatment of Reading and Erie--and dividing "key areas," like cities and counties.

In turn, Republicans blasted Wolf for, as they see it, not negotiating in good faith.

Majority whip Bryan Cutler said the governor's suggested changes to the map aren't nearly specific enough for lawmakers to begin revising their proposal.

He said unless Wolf provides a district-by-district list of preferences or proposes a map of his own, "there is nothing to change that can be considered."

Wolf claims the high ground.

"I've expressed my willingness to work with the Republicans," he told reporters. "I've met with them, but the time is running out."

As the deadline approaches, Wolf still hasn't said if he'll submit his own map independently of the legislature.

Neither have House and Senate Democrats, though Republicans said they already submitted the same one Wolf rejected.

The state Supreme Court is slated to choose the district lines by Monday if none of the submissions meet their criteria.

That likely wouldn't be the end of the redistricting debate, however. Republicans claim the justices drawing the lines would be a violation of the US constitution, and plan to sue in federal court if that happens. 

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