HARRISBURG (December 14, 2011) – State Senator Lisa M. Boscola (D-Northampton/ Lehigh/Monroe) tonight blasted the congressional redistricting plan that splits the Lehigh Valley into two congressional districts, the 15th District, represented by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh), and the 17th District, represented by U.S. Rep. Tim Holden (D-Schuylkill).

The plan (Senate Bill 1249), introduced by majority Republicans with little public review or input, passed the Senate in a largely party line vote late tonight, 26 to 24.

“There are no valid reasons to split the Lehigh Valley between two Congressmen,” Boscola said. “This is a purely partisan political power play by the Republican Party, particularly U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, to protect Republican members.  The Lehigh Valley is best served when it has one member of Congress whose sole attention is on our region.  I question why Rep. Dent has allowed this to occur, knowing that his party has controlled this entire process.  He is protecting his own incumbent interests, not those of the Lehigh Valley.”

Under the bill, the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011, the 15th Congressional District, which had served every municipality in the Lehigh Valley with small areas of Montgomery and Berks County included, will lose all or part of 23 Northampton County municipalities to the 17th District.

The 15th District will also now include a much larger part of Berks County and significant amounts of Lebanon and Dauphin counties — counties west of the Lehigh Valley.

According to 2010 census data, Northampton and Lehigh counties would comprise almost 92 percent of a single congressional district.  Boscola said this more than warrants the Lehigh Valley having its own member of Congress.

“Instead of keeping the Lehigh Valley whole – and maintaining the clout it deserves in Washington, this plan dilutes our power,” Boscola said. “As a result, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce urged me to vote against this bill and refuse to allow partisan politics to silence the voices of nearly half of all Northampton County residents.”

Boscola said the Lehigh Valley has made tremendous strides in the last two decades promoting itself as a region. She said there is “no doubt that creating the Lehigh Valley brand has been helped tremendously by having one member of Congress whose job in Washington is to look out for the concerns of our residents, our businesses and our non-profits.

Boscola said there were numerous problems with the redistricting plan and “how it butchers the Lehigh Valley.” Among them, she said no redistricting plan should ever split the City of Bethlehem from Bethlehem Township. She noted that splitting Bethlehem and Easton was an error made in state Senate redistricting in 2001 and now in 2011 the General Assembly is making the same mistake with congressional redistricting.

“This plan is a simple attempt by the GOP to protect its own,” Boscola said. “The 15th Congressional District, which is known nationally as an important swing district, will now have a significant number of more Republicans.  In swing districts, that makes a huge difference.  It is so disappointing that the Republicans have acted in this fashion for their own political gain…..all at the expense of our communities.”

Senate Bill 1249 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

LISTEN to Sen. Boscola discuss her objections to the redistricting plan:[audio:https://www.senatorboscola.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sen.boscola-reacts-to-new-congressional-district-map-12-21-11.mp3|titles=sen.boscola-reacts-to-new congressional-district-map-12-21-11]

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