FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Tim Briggs
Briggs tells state reapportionment commission to preserve Lower Merion
HARRISBURG, May 2 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, today testified before the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission, urging commission members to reverse their plan to split Lower Merion Township among four legislative districts.
The commission held a public hearing in Harrisburg today regarding the revised state reapportionment map it adopted on April 12.
The commission also adopted a plan that split Lower Merion among four districts in December, but that map was invalidated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in January. Briggs said the commission made some changes to the overall map following the court rebuff, but commission members did not go back to the drawing board for Lower Merion and left the four-district split intact.
According to Briggs, Lower Merion is one of only three municipalities in the Commonwealth to be split four ways, except for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both of which have very large, compact populations that require several districts within those cities. Lower Merion’s population has remained relatively unchanged in the past 20 years, standing at 57,825 today.
"Lower Merion has 178 residents less than it had in 1990," Briggs said. "That's not even enough people to cover one legislative district, let alone four. I believe the Supreme Court had Lower Merion in mind when it rejected the previous map in January."
Briggs said the four-way split in Lower Merion appears to be forced by a split in Haverford Township, Delaware County. He said Haverford Township has never been split in the history of the General Assembly and has formed the base of the 166th Legislative District since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reapportioned the General Assembly in 1965.
"If you follow this map to its rightful conclusion, the four-way split in Lower Merion is nothing more than attempt by the Republican majority to maintain a stronghold on their majority – to retain some seats in an area that has shifted its political philosophies," Briggs said.
Briggs told the commission that eliminating a municipal split in both Lower Merion and Haverford and a county split at that location would be rational, follow the desire of affected residents who have been communicating with the commission and follow Pennsylvania's constitutional mandate for the reapportionment process.
Briggs recently joined Reps. Pam DeLissio and Mike Gerber in providing residents the opportunity to have their voices heard in the state reapportionment process through a petition on their websites.
Briggs, www.pahouse.com/Briggs; DeLissio, www.pahouse.com/DeLissio; and Gerber, www.pahouse.com/Gerber all represent parts of Lower Merion Township and are against the proposal to split the township among four legislative districts.
Lower Merion residents who oppose the proposed split are encouraged to sign the petition, which will be submitted to the commission before the public comment period ends May 14.
Interested residents also can track the state reapportionment process by visiting www.redistricting.state.pa.us.