Saturday, January 27, 2018

PA Supreme Court Causes Scrum In Throwing Out Congressional District Maps

The PA Supreme Court Monday, by a vote of 4 to 3, issued a decision finding the state’s Congressional District Map “clear, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.”
The decision immediately set off a scrum in the Capitol as legislators scrambled to respond.
The Court said the General Assembly and Governor have until February 15 to submit a revised plan for consideration by the Court.
If the General Assembly and Governor fail to act by that date, the Court itself will adopt a plan based on the evidentiary record development in the Commonwealth Court.
On Tuesday Senate and House Republicans filed a petition with the PA Supreme Court asking the Court to reconsider its order based on what they said was a nearly impossible scheduled to comply.   On Thursday the PA Supreme Court turned them down.
Also on Thursday Senate and House Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and stay the PA Supreme Court’s order to redraw the Congressional districts map. Still awaiting word on that one.
On Friday, perhaps anticipating no action in time by the General Assembly, the PA Supreme Court appointed a Stanford professor as special master in the case to help prepare a redistricting map for the Court, if it comes to that.
And not to be outdone, Gov. Wolf, also on Friday, hired his own redistricting expert, Dr. Moon Duchin, a mathematician from Tufts University, to give him “guidance” on evaluating the fairness of any redistricting maps that come before him.
Why can’t anyone from a college in Pennsylvania get these jobs?
$40 Million Richer
The Commonwealth got $40 million richer on Wednesday when the PA Gaming Control Board announced Stadium Casino, LLC was the high bidder for the second mini-casino with a bid of $40,100,005.
The new mini-casino is being proposed for an area 30 miles in diameter in Derry Township in Westmoreland County.
That makes $90 million of the $100 million they anticipated so far on the sale of mini-casino licenses, and they have 8 more to go.
Running/Not Running
There were more retirement announcements in the Senate and House this week, including long-time Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery).
Representatives Kevin Haggerty (D-Lackawanna) and Adam Harris (R-Franklin) also said they will not be running again.
But the big news was House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) announced he was running for retiring Congressman Shuster’s seat and not running for his House seat.
That means both the top House Republican leaders are running for other offices, including House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) who is running for Governor.
The Scorecard: 9 House members retiring (8 Republicans) and 5 others running for different jobs. In the Senate 2 members announced retirements, both Republicans, and 1 is running for another job-- Governor.
Oh yes, and Congressman Meehan, a Republican from Southeast Pennsylvania, announced he was not running after he paid a settlement for a sexual harassment claim with public funds and confessed what amounted to “puppy love” for his ex-staffer.
More retirements ahead no doubt, for a variety of reasons.
What’s Next
The Senate returns to session Monday, while the House takes off a week before both return the following week to hear the Governor’s budget address on February 6.
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