HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania State Senate today approved a congressional map drawn by citizen Amanda Holt and sent it to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature, according to Rep. Seth Grove.
The map’s approval comes hours after Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said lawmakers had reached a stalemate in the redistricting process. Lawmakers faced a court-imposed deadline for the governor, Republican lawmakers, and Democratic lawmakers to submit proposed maps.
Governor Wolf is likely to veto the proposed map, leaving the courts to draw official boundaries
Ward, R-Westmoreland, previously told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon that Senate Republicans have tried unsuccessfully thus far to broker an agreement between the Republican-controlled House, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic lawmakers.
“This is truly an historic day in our state. Never in our state’s history has a congressional map been drawn by a resident and then approved by the Legislature,” Grove said. “It is now up to Wolf to follow the will of the people and sign this bill into law.”
Grove says the map approved by the General Assembly remains “largely identical” to the plan submitted by Holt, a Lehigh Valley resident, with “very minor adjustments recommended by citizens across the Commonwealth to improve the compactness of districts, respond to citizen concerns regarding communities of interest and increase minority representation in Philadelphia.”
Holt’s map was selected out of nearly 20 maps submitted to the House State Government Committee.
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“I truly hope the governor thoroughly looks over the map and sees it for what it is: A fair map drawn by a citizen without using political data, which fully removes any notion of gerrymandering,” Grove said. “From start to finish, I, as committee chairman, strove to remove politics from the map drawing process and to be transparent. I believe we accomplished both goals with this map.”
Erie’s Dan Laughlin told abc27’s Dennis Owens that he takes solace in the fact that the restricting process happens only once every 10 years.
“When maps are all said and done, everybody’s gonna have a state rep, everybody’s gonna have a state senator and everybody’s gonna have a congressperson,” said Laughlin.
The court has set a Jan. 30 deadline for it to render its judgment on proposals that are submitted to it.
Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and House Majority Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) issued the following statement after the Senate advanced the proposed map through House Bill 2146:
“Thanks to months of transparent and intentional work by both citizens and lawmakers, Gov. Tom Wolf has an unprecedented opportunity to make Pennsylvania history by signing this citizen-crafted map into law.
“This map is the end result of the most transparent redistricting process in Pennsylvania history that included more than a dozen public hearings, collecting hundreds of public comments, and advancing a map introduced by a member of the public, and not legislators.
“The citizen-crafted map in House Bill 2146 was the only map introduced to follow the guidelines and standards set forth in the Constitution, and by all measures, puts candidates on equal footing heading into the primary and general elections, so elections can be decided by the will of the people and not political gerrymandering.
“In the state that created modern American democracy, every Pennsylvanian can take pride in once again going the extra mile to ensure our processes are open and the voices of the people are held above those seeking political influence.”
The deadline for lawmakers is barely two weeks before the date — Feb. 15 — when candidates can start circulating petitions to get on primary election ballots. The primary election is May 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report