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Congressional redistricting plan still up in the air a week before deadline




Pictured is Ohio’s congressional delegation as it has looked after the 2012, ’14, ’16, ’18 and ’20 elections. The map will soon be redrawn.

With one week to go before the first official deadline for the congressional district maps in Ohio, how and when the process will start is still unknown with one chamber leader anticipating yet another blown constitutional deadline.

At a Fair Districts Ohio rally earlier this week across from the Statehouse, advocacy groups pushed forward in their targeting of partisan gerrymandering, but also remained critical of the process thus far.

“The legislative branch can not operate as it should when polarization is built into the system,” said Brandi Slaughter, executive director of the Ohio Council of Churches and member of the Fair Districts Ohio coalition.

The process for legislative districts just ended with a four-year map approved along party lines by the Ohio Redistricting Commission on Sept. 15. Whether or not those maps will stand will depend on expected court challenges.

As the process moves forward, the criticism is already flowing in for the congressional map-making, especially because it has yet to begin.

Under the constitutional amendment passed in 2015, the first deadline for Ohio legislators to bring forth a map of the state’s congressional districts was set for Sept. 30.

Legislative leaders like state Senate President Matt Huffman have already said that deadline is likely to expire without any action.

Spokespeople for both the House Republicans and Senate Democrats said there was no update to the process as of Wednesday morning.

But one piece of progress was made on Wednesday in a measure tagged on to House Bill 92. The bill was originally written regarding child abuse in military families, but had an amendment added to “codify rules adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission to ensure the creation of a website for public comment, submission and viewing of proposed congressional redistricting plans.”

“We gotta hurry up and get this knocked out,” state Sen. Frank Hoagland, in discussing the redistricting addition.

The bill passed unanimously in the Ohio Senate on Wednesday.

A state representative says another measure to help move along the process and keep it fair has remained idle in the Ohio House, and she’s calling on redistricting commission co-chair and House Speaker Bob Cupp to schedule hearings.

House Bill 313 has been in the House Government Oversight Committee since May, and would focus on transparency requirements within the redistricting process, and create a joint legislative committee to hold hearings on congressional maps.

“Though we’re halfway through the process, we should not lose sight of the need to ensure the deliberations of the legislature and the Redistricting Commission be transparent and accessible,” state Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, said of her bill.

If the state legislature does not meet the Sept. 30 deadline, the congressional mapping process goes back to the commission, who will have until the end of October to come to an agreement.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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