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Pennsylvania court has a dozen congressional maps to review

A statewide court has at least a dozen different proposed maps of Pennsylvania's congressional district boundaries to consider when hearings begin Thursday, now that Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers appear hopelessly deadlocked.

The state court system put the documents online on Wednesday. The deadline to submit plans was Monday.

Hearings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Pennsylvania, like most other states, must redraw its congressional district boundaries to account for a decade of demographic shifts. The new districts must take effect in this year's election, to last through 2032.

Complicating the process is Pennsylvania's loss of a seat, from 18 to 17, as the U.S. Census showed the nation growing more quickly in population over the past decade than Pennsylvania.

Plans were submitted to the Commonwealth Court by Wolf's office, Democratic lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, partisan groups of voters and good-government groups.

Any Commonwealth Court opinion is likely to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, where a 5-2 Democratic majority sits. In 1992, the map picked by a Commonwealth Court judge was upheld by the state Supreme Court in a similar process that lasted six weeks.

The process is running up against the three-week period beginning Feb. 15 when candidates can circulate petitions to get on primary election ballots. The primary election is May 17.

Pennsylvania’s delegation is currently split evenly, with nine Democrats and nine Republicans, in a presidential battleground state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 4 million to 3.4 million.

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