New district maps keep PA capital region whole
Following the 2020 census, Pennsylvania lost a seat in Congress in Washington. The lawmakers of the State House and Senate government committees of our Palestinian Authority General Assembly are currently in the process of drawing preliminary maps of the 17-seat Congress. Whichever card you choose, it must go through each house of the General Assembly and be approved by the governor. It will be in effect until 2031.
On December 15, the House State Government Committee passed its version of a preliminary map out of the committee and into the entire House for amendments and a vote in January.
So what to do with Dauphin County and the adjacent Capital Region? As a resident of the county for over 44 years, I believe the General Assembly and Governor should consider the following when developing and approving the final congressional map. In addition, a public comment period ensuring that there is sufficient time (preferably 30 days) for public review before approving any final map should be required.
Compactness and common interests
In its 2018 ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court applied essentially the same standards that our state’s Constitution requires for legislative redistribution. The court said congressional districts should be:
â… composed of a compact and contiguous territory; as nearly equal as possible in population; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated city, borough, township or neighborhood, except when necessary to ensure the equality of the population.
The population of each of the 17 new congressional districts created in Pennsylvania for this round of redistribution is 764,865. Dauphin County has a population of 286,401 according to the 2020 census. Based on the population, it is possible to keep the entire county within a congressional district. It should be combined with other counties or regions with similar demographics, concerns, priorities, issues and, if possible, should remain intact.
The new district should not include parts of multiple counties as was done in 2011. It should not be part of a district that extends far west, north or east of Pennsylvania. . How can a legislator effectively focus on and represent two or more areas of the Commonwealth containing constituents with very different issues, concerns, priorities, values ââand cultures? In addition, the county that houses the PA General Assembly should not be divided. However, if a division is considered absolutely necessary, it should not be divided more than once, it should not be done to favor any party or candidate, and an attempt to obtain a reasonably competitive constituency should be made.
With this in mind, the aforementioned House State Government Committee map has divided Dauphin County into three districts. District 10 includes the town of Harrisburg, the eastern third of Cumberland, and all of York and Adams counties. District 11 includes the lower third of Dauphin and all counties of Lebanon and Lancaster. District 13 is made up of all or part of 11 different counties: the upper 2/3 of Dauphin (minus Harrisburg); parts of Union and Snyder to the north; all of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Blair and Huntingdon, 2/3 west of Cumberland to the west; and Franklin and Fulton on the Maryland border. This would appear to violate the requirement for compactness.
Businesses and infrastructure
The capital region of Tri County has become one of the largest warehouses and distribution centers in the country and is the north-eastern crossroads for trade, rail, trucking, passenger and air freight and general public travel. The main support routes are: I-81, I-83, I-78, PA-322 and I-283 / PA-283. The Pennsylvania Turnpike also crosses this area. Harrisburg International Airport is located in Middletown (south of Harrisburg). A common interest in infrastructure, business, commerce, commercial and private development and environmental concerns exists in this region.
Minorities and VRA requirements
Voting law requirements require card makers to strive to retain the voice of racial and ethnic minorities. Urban and suburban voters as well as large black, Hispanic and Asian voter communities in and around Harrisburg are marginalized by combining them with extremely conservative and rural areas. Dauphin County has the fourth highest percentage of African Americans (19.2%) in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia (43.7%), Delaware (22.4%) and Forest (20.8%) counties ). In south-central Pennsylvania, the area most populated by people of color is Harrisburg (more than half of its people). As previously stated, there are large and growing populations of Hispanic and Asian residents in the area and this trend will continue in the future.
The current Congress District 10, serves as a good example for the new Congress District. It is compact encompassing the Tri County capital region of Dauphin Counties, East Cumberland and North York with similar issues, common trade, infrastructure and economic concerns. It has a mix of rural, suburban and urban populations, and a similar number of registered voters from both major parties, independents and other unaffiliated categories. It is also a district with one of the very few “competitive” races in 2018 and 2020 with results of less than 5%. The House state government’s preliminary map would create three secure seats for Republicans.
The citizens of Pennsylvania demand a map with compact and contiguous districts. They are calling for more competitive elections that allow their voices to be heard and representatives who truly represent their interests. The new Congress map will influence policy and legislation affecting all Pennsylvanians over the next decade. What to do with Dauphin? The county that houses the Pennsylvania Capitol should not be divided. Keep the entire county in one district and keep the district compact and contiguous including the Capitol area of ââTri County. It is imperative that we have the best possible map to represent Dauphin County, the Tri County Capital Region, and our Commonwealth of Washington.
Jean Handley is a resident of Dauphin County and its coordinator for Fair Districts PA.