Friday, July 1, 2022

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The U.S. Supreme Court strips the EPA's power to curb pollution, California takes a big step toward universal health care, and a Florida judge will temporarily block the state's 15-week abortion ban.

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SCOTUS significantly limits the Clean Air Act and rules against the "Stay in Mexico" policy, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in to office, and President Biden endorses a filibuster carveout for abortion rights.

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From flying saucers to bologna: America's summer festivals kick off, rural hospitals warn they do not have the necessities to respond in the post-Roe scramble, advocates work to counter voter suppression, and campaigns encourage midterm voting in Indian Country.

House, Senate Redistricting Comes to a Close in Pennsylvania

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022   

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, rejected legal challenges to new state House and Senate maps last week, finalizing the legislative redistricting process.

The chair of the commission tasked with drafting the maps said he believes the districts fairly represent residents. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, in a 4 to 1 bipartisan vote in February, approved the maps, which include 203 House districts and 50 Senate districts.

Mark Nordenberg, nonpartisan chair of the panel, said the commission made an effort to host a record number of public hearings, despite delays in receiving U.S. Census data.

"I do think that these maps will serve the people of the Commonwealth well for the next decade," Nordenberg asserted. "That seems to be the consensus view from the good-government groups and the leaders of minority groups, too."

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, is a member of the commission who voted against the maps. He said in a statement the court decision will "artificially create a Democrat majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives through deliberate racial and political gerrymandering."

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced the 2020 census undercounted Black people and Native Americans, with Latinos having a net undercount rate of nearly 5%.

Nordenberg acknowledged some undercounts were expected because of the pandemic, but are still disappointing.

"You work hard to key your redistricting efforts to the census results that come from the federal government," Nordenberg explained. "We are required to do that. That news makes it all the more important that we did try to create minority-influence districts."

The new maps created majority-Latino districts in Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown. The state's Latino population grew by 45% between 2010 and 2020, according to census data, and its Asian population grew by 46%.

Candidates running for legislative office in Pennsylvania have until next Monday to submit their nomination petitions.


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