The LRC consists of five members: Democratic and Republican leaders from both the House and Senate, as well as a non-partisan chair.
The redistricting process has been a partisan issue, causing disagreement especially among House Democrats and Republicans.
Republicans have expressed their opposition to the map for weeks.
Just a few hours before a final map was approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, House Majority Leader, Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre, Mifflin) presented a map of his own.
“They just want more Democrat districts, and under this map, to be revealed later this afternoon, that’s what they’ll have,” said Benninghoff during a press event this morning. “It creates partisan districts, that will only lead to more gridlock, less bipartisanship. ”
Benninghoff serves on the LRC alongside Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia, Delaware), and the Commission’s Chair, Mark Nordenberg.
Benninghoff and House Republicans have been outspoken about what they call unnecessary splits in the preliminary House map. They say, in accordance with the state Constitution, splits of municipalities, counties, and other localities should not take place unless absolutely necessary. They’ve also said the process should have been more transparent and less partisan.
“There is no empirical evidence that the preliminary plan is a partisan gerrymander,” said Nordenberg, as he addressed arguments against the map.
Today, Nordenberg also echoed what many researchers, political scientists, and fair districts advocates have been saying throughout the entire redistricting process: The map is likely to still favor the Republican majority.
“The plan is fair with just a small pro-Republican bias,” said Nordenberg.
There are more registered Democrats than Republicans throughout Pennsylvania. Democrat lawmakers say previous Republican gerrymandering efforts have led them to maintain a strong majority in the legislature, adding that Republicans are doing what they can to fight any compromise or impact to that majority.
Benninghoff’s amendment failed 2-3 without support from both Rep. McClinton and Sen. Costa, as well as Nordenberg.
Shortly after, the commission voted 4-1 to approve both the final House and Senate maps, with Sen. Majority Leader Kim Ward voting in favor.
However, the redistricting outcome is not final just yet. There will now be a 30-day period where the maps can be challenged to the State Supreme Court.