Pa. lawmakers begin puzzling over legislative districts

    A preliminary Pennsylvania redistricting plan is due in mid-November, and one flashpoint is whether districts won’t merely be redrawn, but moved altogether.

    Think of the 50 state Senate districts like puzzle pieces, says Erik Arneson, one of the top Republican staffers focused on state redistricting.

    Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Republican Dominic Pileggi, who sits on the redistricting panel, says sometimes drawing those puzzle pieces to include about the same number of people means–for example–a piece in the southwest may have to be eliminated and a new piece needs to be created in the southeast.

    “There will be at least one legislator who does not like that kind of thing if it happens. I think voters are much more concerned about making sure that districts are roughly equal size, so that everybody’s vote counts the same,” Arneson said.

    Arneson says the population changes of the past 10 years–with decline in western Pennsylvania and growth in the east–might force the state redistricting panel to move a Senate district.

    A government reform advocate says sometimes moving a district is a tool to punish wayward lawmakers who don’t toe party lines.

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