Thousands of Yorkers will have the option to vote for a new senator this year under redistricting, but they might want to pack travel snacks and toll money if they plan to visit his district office.
The 54-mile drive from Springettsbury Township's Mount Zion Road offices to the Lebanon office of Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, takes one hour and nine minutes, according to Apple Maps.
But the senator, who's running for re-election and is so far unopposed, said he's hoping to open a mobile office in the York area to address the concerns of constituents, some of whom have no idea they're his constituents.
Folmer has been representing the townships of Springettsbury, Conewago, East Manchester, and Newberry and the boroughs of Goldsboro, Lewisberry, Manchester, Mount Wolf, and York Haven since the state Supreme Court approved redistricting maps last year.
Folmer's district now represents all of Lebanon County and has a tail that stretches through Dauphin and into York, the tip of the tail stopping in Springettsbury.
Who is Folmer?: Folmer he has been meeting with township supervisors and school district officials in his new York territory to introduce himself. He said most voters are confused about redistricting and some don't realize he's their senator.
He also plans to hold town meetings in York, and he's looking to partner with a representative in the York portion of his district to open a mobile office.
Folmer has represented the 48th Senate District since 2007 and was elected on the heels of and in response to the controversial 2005 legislative pay raise. He is a former director of public safety for Lebanon City Council.
Folmer is also a founding member of the Constitutional Organization of Liberty, or COOL, a nonprofit formed to promote awareness of America's founding principles. The group was among those claiming to have been targeted by the IRS last year after a senior IRS official admitted some agents targeted conservative organizations with "tea party" and "patriot" in their names.
Folmer chairs the Senate's Education Committee, is vice-chair of the Labor & Industry Committee, and serves on other committees.
Priorities: As a cancer survivor, Folmer lists the legalization of medical marijuana as one of his top agenda items.
Patients should have every opportunity to combat their illness and have "the liberty and ability to use cannabis as a weapon in their arsenal of treatment," he said in a statement about Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act.
He also supports Senate Bill 76, which calls for the elimination of property taxes.
Bills which Folmer has authored and which became law include acts to reduce government paperwork and govern the sharing of electronic health records.
Fitting in: Under redistricting, Lancaster Republican Lloyd Smucker no longer represents York, nor does Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin County.
Much of York County is represented by the 28th Senate, the only district located exclusively in York and the seat up for grabs in the recent special election, won by write-in candidate Scott Wagner. He'll served until the end of legislative session. This year's general election will determine who holds the seat for the following four years.
Sen. Pat Vance-R-Cumberland/York, still has part of the western portion of York, as does Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Adams/Franklin/York.
Politicos had been hoping the redistricting would provide York County with two "full-time" senators who served no other counties, and the final draft of Senate maps were disappointing, said Bob Wilson, who chairs the York County Republican Committee.
"It's a shame to have one full-time senator with the rest split with three sitting senators who reside outside the county," he said.
Wilson said Folmer's home in Lebanon County is "far-removed" from York, but he'll "fit in just fine."
He said he has met with Folmer, who's "a nice guy who's very well engaged" but can be outspoken at times.
Folmer's issue and policy positions will be slightly different from York County's incumbent Senate delegation, Wilson said.
"I think he stands to the right of those folks politically, a little bit more conservative than most," Wilson said.
He said he's hoping the next round of redistricting, after the 2020 Census, gives York two senators who reside in York and serve it exclusively.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.