New state congressional map makes major changes

The boundaries are changing but so are the district numbers for Pennsylvania's congressional map.

The Lehigh Valley's congressional district will soon be the 7th instead of the 15th and include all of Lehigh and Northampton counties and a slice of Monroe.

Most of Monroe County is in the 8th. Schuylkill and Carbon counties are in the 9th.

Berks County is also included in the 9th but also bleeds into districts 6 and 4.

Political experts say this is a game changer in Pennsylvania politics.

"It's a big change. If you took these districts that are proposed by the Supreme Court it would shift the partisan balance in a number of districts. We have a number of open seats already in the state, I could see a number of seats switching party control," said Chris Borick, professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

The redistricting was ordered after the state Supreme Court ruled the state map had issues with gerrymandering and violated the constitution.

The court ordered state legislators to come up with a better map, which they did, but Gov. Tom Wolf wouldn't sign off on the Republican plan.

According to the Supreme Court opinion:

"The General Assembly failed to pass legislation for the Governor's a result, it has become the judiciary's duty to fashion an appropriate remedial districting plan."

That plan takes effect in May, but could face a legal challenge by the GOP, which says courts do not have the right to set congressional boundaries.

"I have every reason to believe the Republicans will be immediately challenge this in the Supreme Court," Borick said.

Political experts say this new version of the map looks like a throwback to the 1990s when Don Ritter was the congressman for the 15th district.

Experts say the map pays closer attention to county lines and regions, something the Supreme Court wanted lawmakers to use in their maps.

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