Lehigh Valley, Monroe gain clout under reapportionment
An op-ed column by Senator Pat Browne
16th Senatorial District
Pennsylvania's Senate and House of Representatives districts are redrawn
every 10 years based on U.S. Census data. The Pennsylvania
Constitution requires these boundary changes to ensure state
residents receive equal representation in state government.
Under the new reapportionment plan, each state Senator will represent
approximately 254,000 citizens and each member of the House of
Representatives will represent approximately 62,500 citizens.
The state legislative districts are drawn and approved by the Legislative
Reapportionment Commission, a bi-partisan, bi-cameral panel and
do not need to be approved by the House or the Senate or signed
into law by the Governor. The Legislative Reapportionment
Commission recently approved the final maps showing the new
realignment of Pennsylvania's state legislative districts.
The Lehigh Valley and Monroe County areas saw significant change with the
release of the new districts.
Starting with the Senate, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission was
able to address the criticisms of the 2001 district
realignments. For one, Monroe County, which was divided among
six state Senators – none of whom lived within the county lines
– will be represented by a single Senator come 2013. To make
this possible, the 45th Senatorial District was moved from
Allegheny County to Monroe County. With Monroe County
experiencing some of the greatest growth in the state over the
past 20 years and Allegheny County seeing its population numbers
decrease it was natural to shift a seat from the west to Monroe.
The new 45th Senatorial District will include all of Monroe
County and will extend into part of Northampton County.
While I regret losing my portion of Monroe County, I truly believe the
consolidation under a single senatorial district is not only
merited, but long overdue for those residents.
Another adjustment, this time in Northampton County, was shifting Easton
back into the 18th Senatorial District where it had been until
the 2001 redistricting.
As for the 16th Senatorial District, which I represent, it has been
consolidated under the new reapportionment plan and will consist
solely of municipalities in Lehigh County. My new district,
starting in 2013, will include: the City of Allentown; the
townships of Heidleburg, Lower Macungie, Lower Milford, Lowhill,
Lynn, North Whitehall, South Whitehall, Upper Macungie, Upper
Milford, Upper Saucon, Washington and Weisenberg; and, the
boroughs of Alburtis, Coopersburg and Macungie.
I have greatly enjoyed and been privileged to represent parts of
Northampton and Monroe County since joining the Senate in 2005.
I believe, though, that the changes made in all three counties
will benefit the residents of each and meets the goal of
combining municipalities that share many common interests.
On the House side of the plan, one of the major changes involves the
addition of a new district in the Lehigh Valley, specifically in
the city of Allentown.
The 22nd State House District would be moved from Allegheny County to the
City of Allentown. Currently, Allentown is split between four
House Districts. Under the final approved plan, the city would
be represented by just two seats: the 22nd and the 132nd
This move not only reflects the population growth experienced by the city,
but will potentially provide Allentown a less fractured voice in
Harrisburg. This change will be a true benefit for the city and
for the Lehigh Valley region in general.
The final reapportionment plan was approved on December 12, 2011 and filed
with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. A 30-day window in which
grievances and challenges are able to be filed with the courts
started following this approval. If no challenges are
successful, the reapportionment plan will be approved by the
courts and finalized.
To view the final maps, visit the Commission's website:
State Senator Pat Browne represents the 16th Senatorial District
and serves as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.