HARRISBURG, Pa. — The five-person committee tasked with drawing new State House and Senate lines for Pennsylvania were almost unanimous in approving lines for the next ten years.
By a vote of 4 to 1, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission adopted districts which highlight a declining rural population, and a growth in Pennsylvania's urban centers, most notably a rising Latino population.
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward was the lone Republican to vote for the maps, joining Democratic leaders on the panel State Representative Joanna McClinton and Senator Jay Costa. Chairman Mark Nordenberg also voted to approve the maps he helped author.
Pa. House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, the lone dissenting vote, decried the maps as unconstitutional, claiming "the fix was in" during a lengthy speech right before the final vote. Benninghoff claims the maps do less to help Pennsylvania's minority population, and the new lines are drawn only on the basis of race.
"I cannot think of any worse use of the commission's power than to put forward a plan that is putting voters into districts because of their race," he said. "That this slicing and dicing of minority voters is required to provide equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice."
In response, Rep. McClinton said she hoped Benninghoff was simply misinformed.
"To infer that I, whose grandmother couldn't vote until the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, as the first Black to this table, that I'm trying to disenfranchise people of color whether they're African American, Latino, or any other color, to me and my caucus it is personally disrepsectful," she said.
Aggrieved parties now have 30 days to challenge the maps to Pennsylvania's state courts.