Shop drawings. No, not those shop drawings, but the “shop talk” at the capitol this week was the re-drawing of the congressional district boundaries and the adoption of legislation to implement the new maps. The state House this week adopted a bill that would redraw the state’s congressional representation into 17 districts. That is one less district than before as the Commonwealth loses one congressional seat due to population shifts from the last census. The bill still needs Senate approval which is expected to occur next week. Additionally, the bill will need to be signed into law by Governor Wolf who has not indicated his support or opposition to the current map plan. All of this needs to be completed by February 15 which is the first day to circulate nominating petitions to get on the ballot in the new districts for the upcoming May Primary Election.
Change in the rules coming? Controversy on the other mapping/re-drawing process heated up this week when House Republicans introduced a constitution amendment proposal that would change how the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) is determined. The LRC is convened every 10 years following the Census to redraw the 253 state House and Senate districts in the Commonwealth. Currently, the commission consists of five members—one from each of the four legislative caucuses and the fifth being an appointment by the state Supreme Court. Should the proposal be approved by two successive General Assemblies and then by the voters in a statewide referendum, the LRC would expand to be represented by 11 members appointed by various state and local governmental entities. While this is just the beginning of the process, it is one to keep an eye on because the balance of power in the General Assembly will determine a lot of how this all plays out over the next few years.
Running out of options. It appears that the end is near and baring some sort of “Hail Mary” Governor Wolf will achieve a key policy goal of his administration and enter the Commonwealth into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The final regulation was printed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin meaning that unless the General Assembly passes a disapproval measure in the next 30 days, the regulation will become final and carry the force of law—meaning Pennsylvania will become part of the multi-state compact. The General Assembly made an attempt in December to stop the regulation, but it fell just five votes short of a “veto-proof majority” needed. The measure isn’t dead yet, but unless these five votes can be secured the end is near and Pennsylvania is likely to become the latest “RGGI State.”
Upcoming schedule. The state Senate returns to Harrisburg on Tuesday of next week and is expected to have two days of legislative voting session. The state House is scheduled to return next during the week of January 24, 2022.