Businessmen, government leaders and citizens testified this week that they want a plan to refocus Congress that will result in optimal government for the people who live and work in their regions.
Some argued that the congressional map of the state was redrawn too many times to favor one political party over another, resulting in poor government.
Among the witnesses at the forum, held in Tioga County and hosted by State Representative Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, was Williamsport / Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Jason Fink.
He said the county is best represented by a single House of Representatives rather than multiple lawmakers. He mentioned the companies, health facilities, universities and transport networks that serve the district and the surrounding region.
In the past, Lycoming County was represented by two congressional districts, although it is now entirely in the 12th house district, a seat currently held by US MP Fred Keller, R-Kreamer.
“We hope that when the maps are taken into account, the surrounding districts will be included.” said Keller.
Tioga County Commissioner Roger Bunn called for the 12th district to be preserved as it exists.
On behalf of the commissioners in his county, he said: “In our opinion, any suggestion to reconstruct it has no justification.”
The division of the county into multiple house wards, he said, creates confusion and makes communication difficult.
Malcolm Derk of Snyder County and Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the Greater
The Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce noted that the surrounding counties are working together in business, education, transportation, and communications to create a unified network.
“Leaving an entire district in a congressional district prevents confusion” he said. “We want to keep interest groups. It helps that entire communities are held together. “
Amy Shields, executive director of the Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group in McKean County, said the interests of agriculture and forestry must continue to have a voice to represent them in Congress.
“It is important to be able to speak to a single legislator” She said.
James Van Blarcom, a Bradford County farmer, said the current vote in Congress made sense.
He pointed out the particular concerns of people living in rural areas like his own.
“Our representation must come from the region” he said.
Janet Gyekis, Wellsboro, said she was part of an effort to change the way the redistribution was carried out.
Because of partisan politics, the Pennsylvania Congress map is one of the most ordered of all states and is detrimental to good government, she said.
The state’s congressional and legislative district reassignments occur every 10 years.
As populations change and relocate, the size and shape of the districts need to be updated.
Fair Districts Pa., A non-partisan civic group campaigning to stop gerrymandering, has found that while the redistribution of Congress in the state is done through the legislative process, there is no law governing how the districts are redrawn or what criteria should be used to ensure boundaries are fair.
State House and Senate districts are elected by a five-person commission, with four of the members being the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate.
The four elect a fifth person to chair, but if they can’t agree on someone, the state Supreme Court appoints someone.
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