HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a congressional map sent to him by lawmakers, leaving the monumental job of picking Pennsylvania’s next district lines to the state courts.
In a veto message issued late Wednesday, Wolf claimed the map failed “the test of fundamental fairness.”
“The people of Pennsylvania deserve a fair election map that promotes accountability and responsiveness to voters and is drawn in an open and honest way,” he said. “The public deserves a fair map completed in a bipartisan manner; the General Assembly failed to adopt one.”
The map sent to Wolf by the GOP-controlled legislature was initially drawn by Amanda Holt, a noted redistricting reform advocate and former Lehigh County commissioner, and championed by state Rep. Seth Grove (R., York). It was amended by Grove’s legislative committee after GOP members of the panel criticized how their counties were split.
It improves upon four fairness criteria outlined in a previous state Supreme Court ruling, but nonpartisan analyses show it has a partisan bias in favor of Republicans.
With Wolf’s veto, the state judicial system is now likely to have the final say.
In response to suits filed by two groups of Pennsylvanians in December, Commonwealth Court asked the citizen petitioners, Wolf, top Republicans and Democrats, and good-government advocates to submit their own proposed maps.
The court will host hearings Thursday and Friday to consider the proposals. It could issue a ruling as soon as Jan. 30, the original deadline it set for Wolf and the legislature to come to an agreement, but redistricting observers expect the decision to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
In recent days, legislators in the state Senate said they were still working on a compromise map that all four caucuses and Wolf could agree to. House Republicans had criticized Wolf for telling reporters in December that he would not negotiate on the map. He surprised many by releasing his own proposal on Jan. 15.
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