Fifth attempt to draw legislative district lines in Ohio ends with no action, could impact August primary timeline | Ohio News | Cincinnati


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Photo: Analog Child, Wikimedia Commons

Pictured is the Thomas J. Moyer Judicial Center of Ohio, where the Supreme Court of Ohio meets.

Some of the Ohio Redistricting Commission players have changed for their Wednesday, May 4, meeting, but the amount of action has not changed.

The commission met to kick off the legislative map redesign process, two days before the Friday, May 6, deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court.

This is the fifth attempt at legislative constituency lines for the commission, which has seen every map approved by the commission shot down by the state’s highest court for being unconstitutional and overly partisan.

State Rep. Jeff LaRe, R-Violet Twp., took over from House Speaker Bob Cupp, and state Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, took over the chair from Senate Speaker Matt Huffman in moves the two General Assembly leaders said were to free up time for other “legislative priorities,” such as the capital budget, which is due to be presented on the last day of June. A federal court has set May 28 as the deadline for redistricting.

LaRe didn’t speak much at Wednesday’s meeting except to try to keep Fair Districts Coalition activists from interrupting, but McColley led discussions on funding appropriations and disapproval of bringing back freelance mappers , Dr. Douglas Johnson and Dr. Michael McDonald, to attempt to complete new legislative maps.

Those mapmakers won’t be back, as GOP members of the committee united 5-2 in the vote against the measure.

Gov. Mike DeWine echoed statements he made at previous ORC meetings about the commission’s obligation to adopt a map. But he also said the mappers had proven in their last attempt that “they were unable to obtain all (the constitutional and court-ordered requirements) and avoid partisan patronage”, and that he had watched mapmakers make decisions based on the belief that the supreme court was “asking them to favor the Democrats.”

The Ohio Supreme Court mentioned the Johnson/McDonald map in its rejection of the fourth map adopted by the ORC. In fact, they said the stewards should review the map drawn up by the independent duo on their fifth attempt.

“By some measure,” the court majority said, the Johnson/McDonald plan “is on its way to being constitutional.”

According to Secretary of State (and commissioner) Frank LaRose, one of the sticking points the commission will face over the next two days is the impact of the legislative redistricting chaos on the second primary, which will be held in August.

But that primary is still up in the air, as are the legislative maps, as LaRose told the commission on Tuesday, May 3, that he would not vote for any map considered by the commission without the promise of legislative intervention to move election deadlines. .

LaRose said it would be “irresponsible” for him to consider a new map without adjusting timelines for an Aug. 2 primary, which would feature Statehouse races and candidates for the party’s central committee.

According to a typical schedule, the deadlines for an election would start 90 days before the date voters would arrive in the precincts. In order to meet the Aug. 2 primary date, LaRose said candidate petitions would need to be validated by May 16. With Tuesday’s election seen as a “miracle” by LaRose, he said he was not comfortable putting county election commissions on another squeeze. chronology.

As listener Keith Faber interpreted LaRose’s statements: “Anything we pass by Friday is impossible to implement for an August 2 election no matter what we do.”

This is where the General Assembly would come in, LaRose said. The GA timeline would be even shorter: LaRose said he would need a response from lawmakers by Thursday, May 5, to make anything election-related work.

“I would need that assurance before I could even consider a new card,” LaRose said.

That assurance likely won’t happen, as McColley went ahead and snuffed out the LaRose possibility in Wednesday’s meeting. McColley told the committee he did not believe his fellow senators would support an emergency bill to change election deadlines. Legislative bodies have also not considered moving to the May 3 primary.

Republican lawmakers in the Ohio Senate, as well as the Ohio House, currently enjoy supermajorities that the swing vote in recent cases — Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor — has determined as Gerrymander in 2011 under a minority of judges at the time.

Although there was no discussion of a plan at Wednesday’s ORC meeting, shortly after it adjourned the commission announced a meeting at 4:45 p.m. Thursday. The agenda for the meeting was not released Wednesday evening.

The maps are due in the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday at 9 a.m., and the federal court said if no maps exist by May 28, it will implement the third version of the legislative maps. adopted by the ORC, which was rejected by the state supreme court as an illegal and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, to be used for the remainder of the 2022 election.

This story was originally published by The Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

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