State House Sound Bites

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

Legislature's plan remains hazy in Pa. congressional map-redrawing

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 6, 2018 6:23 AM

Lawmakers say communications on new congressional maps have been minimal, and there's little to no consensus on what they might look like. (Photo by AP)


(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania Republicans have lost what was likely their best shot at getting out of redrawing congressional maps, after the state Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional.

GOP legislative leaders had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds the state court decision violated the US constitution. But Justice Samuel Alito declined to issue a stay.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed said there may be nothing else opponents of the redistricting decision can do to change the situation.

"I mean look, I think generally when the U.S. Supreme Court speaks, that tends to be the end of it," he said.

Lawmakers now have four days to agree on new congressional districts, vote them through the House and Senate, and send them to Governor Tom Wolf for approval.

But Republican leaders in both chambers report little consensus on how to proceed.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said there haven't been any talks between the House, Senate, or governor -- or even between his caucus and Senate Democrats.

Part of the holdup, he said, is that the state court still hasn't issued a full opinion with more criteria for redrawing the maps.

"Absent that, it makes it difficult for us to meet whatever requirement they're laying out for us," he said. "So once we see that -- and I expect it would be soon -- we can see if there's something we can then follow through."

He said Senate Republicans have come up with some hypothetical maps, but they aren't committing to anything.

In fact, they're not even sure they'll submit one at all.

"There's some thought that the Supreme Court is going to throw out anything we give them anyway," Corman said. "What's the purpose of us going through all this work to just have them throw it out?"

The Senate has passed a shell bill that can later be modified to redraw the maps, if the chambers agree on how to do it.

It's now awaiting a vote in the House State Government Committee. It'll take lawmakers a minimum of three days to pass it.

House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have issued a statement saying they still oppose the court's decision.

"We will do our best to comply with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's January 22nd order, but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court," they wrote.

They didn't clarify what they would argue in federal court, or when they might file suit.

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