September 21st - Legislative Reapportionment Commission Approves Resolution 5A

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | 515 Irvis Building, Harrisburg, PA

At its September 21 meeting, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission approved Resolution 5A, which would exempt prisoners in state correctional institutions who are serving minimum sentences that will expire after April 1, 2030 from data reallocation under the provisions of Resolution 4A, which was adopted by the Commission at its August 24 meeting. A resolution similar to Resolution 5A had been proposed by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward at that earlier meeting but had been tabled so that Commissioners would have more time to consider its implications.

In addition to Senator Ward, the resolution was supported by House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff and Commission Chair Mark Nordenberg. It was opposed by Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa and House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton. Opponents argued that passage of this new resolution would undermine the earlier resolution, while proponents argued that it was a logical extension of the exemption for prisoners serving life sentences that was included in the August 24 resolution, since these prisoners would be held at least until the next ten-year reapportionment cycle begins. Proponents also noted that the life-sentence provision exempts 3,954 prisoners from the data reallocation process, while the ten-year-sentence provision would exempt only 3,046. More than 44,000 prisoners are held in state correctional institutions.

At its August 24 meeting, the Commission also had approved a resolution calling for the production of two census data sets, one that made no adjustments for prisoner data reallocation and one that did make such adjustments. Brent McClintock, the Executive Director of the Legislative Data Processing Center, provided a brief overview of progress that has been made to date. He indicated that work on the first data set was nearing completion and that the second data set should be completed no later than early November. Chairman Nordenberg expressed gratitude to McClintock and to Jennifer Shultz, the Director of the Penn State Data Center, and Diana Woodside, Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs for the Department of Corrections, for their efforts to generate the required data as expeditiously as possible.

Watch the meeting (Minutes, Transcript).

*** UPDATED 01/20/2022 ***

September 21, 2021