Sunday, July 13, 2014
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PA Supreme Court: Speaker must approve special elections

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this afternoon ordered state House Speaker Sam Smith to schedule special elections for six vacant House seats, including three in Philadelphia, on April 24, the same day as the primary election. The court's 4-to-3 ruling comes in response to a petition filed Feb. 17 by local attorney Kevin Greenberg, who was representing 11 voters from those House districts.

PA Supreme Court: Speaker must approve special elections

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this afternoon ordered state House Speaker Sam Smith to schedule special elections for six vacant House seats, including three in Philadelphia, on April 24, the same day as the primary election.  The court's 4-to-3 ruling comes in response to a petition filed Feb. 17 by local attorney Kevin Greenberg, who was representing 11 voters from those House districts.

The election calendar was thrown into flux last month when the Supreme Court tossed out the reapportionment plan approved in December by the General Assembly. The lines for state House and Senate districts are redrawn every 10 years based on the latest census information.  The state Legislative Reapportionment Commission has not produced a new version of the plan.  Smith had wanted to wait until the new plan was approved before setting special elections.

"A new reapportionment plan, once final, takes effect at the next ensuing primary and general election; it does not operate retroactively to remake the districts of the House members for the remainders of their terms; it simply does not disrupt existing terms," the court ruled.

Three of the House seats representing Philadelphia are vacant because of resignations. Jewell Williams [197th District in North Philly] became Philadelphia's sheriff. Kenyatta Johnson [186th District in South Philly] and Denny O'Brien [169th District in Northeast Philly] resigned to take seats on City Council.

The original reapportionment plan moved the 169th seat to York County but it came back to the city when the Supreme Court's action effectively reset the district lines to where they were drawn in 2001.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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