Senate district 16 and 18

Marilyn Mercado 116 Church St Apt 4 Catasauqua, PA 18032 01/18/2022 Legislative Reappointment Commission U S Congress Washington, DC Dear Legislative Reappointment Commission: It was a pleasure to view the hearings online regarding mapping distribution using US Census 2020 held by Legislative Reappointment Commission. At this time, I will add my testimony regarding redistricting of Pennsylvania Senatorial Districts 16 and 18. Bethlehem is divided into Lehigh and Northampton counties. Bethlehem’s policies and regulations are made by their city council, mayor, Department of Education, etc. Any changes of policy affect Lehigh and Northampton Counties equally. We need to keep Bethlehem whole. Distribution of funds or any other assistance to their residents may not come in a timely basis. Why separate Bethlehem, Lehigh County? There is no reason to divide it. Allentown’s Senate district 16 is also undergoing changes which do not meet the resident’s concerns. The map favors Senator Browne. Senator Browne has a record of not supporting his constituents. In 2016, 3 PA Unemployment Service Centers, Allentown, Altoona and Lancaster, closed and other employees were furlough from Harrisburg UCSC. Members of the Senate and of L&I commission, where Senator Browne was the Senate Appropriations Commission chair, were involved in the decision-making in 2016. The lack of support from Senator Browne led to the closing of Allentown UCSC. Discussions were made by affected employees and residents of PA. The reasons exposed by Legislators did not equate to the data supplied to the commission. Allentown is the 3rd largest city in Pa with a high unemployment in 2016 and continues. Many applicants for unemployment were able to come to the office and drop paperwork at a locked drop box. After Allentown UCSC closed, the nearest offices were in Scranton and Harrisburg. Many applicants were and are unable to travel outside of Allentown to give the information needed to process claims. The Service Centers are “call centers” but they have a locked drop box for applicants to hand in documentation. Allentown UCSC never opened, and the employees were allowed to return to the offices, which remained open later when a funding bill was passed in 2017. The employees travel to Scranton, Harrisburg or move to either Duquesne, Erie, Indiana, Altoona (reopened after closing 12/19/2016) Service Centers. Many employees were unable to accept such positions. Employee’s seniority, pension was affected by not passing legislation timely to assist the UCSC’s or the residents of PA. Employees who were unable to accept the positions paid penalties to liquidate their pension. Senator Browne failed Allentown UCSC and his constituents. How can we look at the new map for district 16 and say it is in the best interest of their residents and not Senator Browne? Allentown’s ANIZDA, gentrification issues are addressed at Allentown city council, mayor, etc. Why add Bethlehem Lehigh County to Allentown when their issues are different and addressed by Bethlehem not Allentown? Do not allow this to happen. Residents of Bethlehem, Lehigh County must remain with Senatorial district 18 and Allentown must remain with district 16. Review the maps for this area, listen to our concerns and decisions should be made to assist the population in that area, not the Senator who is attempting to remain in a position where his ideals are not to assist his constituents. Do not allow quieting our voices by not correcting the maps. It is time to make decisions for the residents of PA, not for the Legislators. We are people with needs, not objects for Legislators in Pa to ignore. As hearings continue, consider my testimony and of many other individuals voicing their concern(s). In solidarity, Marilyn Mercado Concerned citizen of Pa