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Lawmakers readjust to districts in Valley

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2002

The state Supreme Court has upheld territory changes on the new state legislative map, but Valley legislators will represent their "old" districts until new senators and representatives are sworn into office in January.

Still, people relatively new to the Valley such as state Sen. Sean Logan, D-Monroeville - have been trying to show they will represent their reapportioned communities.

In the May primary, voters will begin the process of choosing legislators for the new districts, so legislators across Pennsylvania have been shaking hands with folks in their new communities, said political analyst G. Terry Madonna of Millersville University.

In the May primary and November election, voters will choose a governor, a lieutenant governor, members of Congress, all state representatives, and state senators who are in the even-numbered districts, such as state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless.

The new map pushes Orie's 40th District out of many of her Allegheny River valley communities - stretching from Cheswick to Harrison. In the new map, the Valley portions of her district will include West Deer, Buffalo and Clinton, but she will have to be re-elected because her term ends in December.

Many of those Allegheny River communities are going to Logan, the Monroeville Democrat, who visits the Valley twice per week to get to know the issues and meet people. Logan is not up for re-election.

Orie and state Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Vandergrift, said they also will be visible in their new communities, but will represent their old communities until their terms officially end.

Allison Moore, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said Friday that the reapportionment starts Jan. 1, and is good for 10 years.

Legislators can't yet spend tax dollars from the new districts or solve misunderstandings that residents are having with PennDOT, Orie said.

Leaders from the state House and Senate are meeting March 13 to determine transitional issues, such as when legislators can open new district offices, Orie said.

The issue of district offices and reapportionment has backfired on State Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, who opened an office along Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell shortly after he was sworn in early in 2001.

Reapportionment pushed White's district out of Lower Burrell, a city that is going to Logan when the new map becomes official. White said he hopes Logan can take over the lease for the Lower Burrell office.

State Sen. Leonard Bodack, D-Lawrenceville, had a district that was based in Pittsburgh but now includes portions of the Valley.

Bodack announced he will retire Nov. 30, which could turn the May primary into a wide-open race for the 38th District.

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