PHILADELPHIA, PA – City Council’s Committee of the Whole today gave approval to legislation that revises the boundaries of the 10 Council districts, adhering to the requirement that Council go through once-a-decade redistricting following the results of the U.S. Census.
The redistricting legislation, Bill No. 220003 as amended, received unanimous approval in the Committee of the Whole, following a public hearing with more testimony from 10 members of the public. This followed an initial public hearing last week on the redistricting plan, in which more than two dozen individuals testified.
The redistricting legislation now goes to the full Council, which is required to give two readings of the bill before casting final votes, presumably on February 10th.
At the hearings thus far, Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) has made clear to members of the public who testified that they wanted to see more public process involved in redistricting, “We hear you.” During the two hearings, Clarke also addressed two issues of concern which were raised: One issue involves where and how to count prison inmates for purposes of redistricting, and another raises the question of whether the city’s ward and division maps are outdated and may need to be revised.
Clarke indicated that Council staff are in contact with vendors who have the capacity to add data involving prisoners in state correctional facilities back into the appropriate Council districts, based on the prisoners’ last known addresses. Clarke has let both his Members as well as the public know that Council has the ability and authority to revisit its district boundaries to add prisoner data by district, once it is ready. Clarke indicated that between state facility inmates and prisoners in local jails, that number may be about 10,000 individuals. The city’s population, following the Census, is just over 1.6 million.
Clarke also indicated during today’s hearing that issues surrounding the ward and division boundaries may need to be addressed, by working in collaboration with the city commissioners, who need the ward/division maps to conduct elections. These ward and division maps have not been revised in decades, Clarke said, and changes are necessary.
“We take our responsibilities seriously to revise our boundaries in accordance with the U.S. Census once every 10 years, and we believe this legislation as amended in committee today accomplishes that,” Clarke said.
Watch today’s hearing;