Redistricting commissioners working behind-the-scenes on new Ohio legislative maps
The commission is preparing to hear a presentation on the latest Ohio House and Ohio Senate district map proposals Thursday night.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told the Ohio Redistricting Commission that staff with the GOP legislative caucuses have finalized a plan for new district maps.
Huffman says the proposal creates 54 out of 99 House seats that favor Republicans and 18 out of 33 Senate seats that lean in favor of the GOP.
"We've been working low these past several days to try to resolve the General Assembly maps. We have had a map which we, we believe comports with all of the requirements of the supreme court," says Huffman.
Democratic members of the commission expressed concerns over the soon-to-be proposed maps. Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) says the Democratic legislative staff did not have enough time to review the maps and that, at first glance, there are some issues.
Sykes says there are concerns over how many Democratic-leaning districts end up being within a competitive margin compared to Republican-leaning districts.
"So we think that the symmetry issues raised by the court, a symmetry issue may be one is really critical, but we again have to take the time to look in more details of the plan that they are offering," Sykes says.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on February 7that the second round of state legislative maps approved by the redistricting commission on January 22 was also unconstitutional.
That map created 57 Republican and 42 Democratic districts in the Ohio House and 20 Republican districts and 13 Democratic districts in the Ohio Senate.
The supreme court said that map did not abide by the constitutional requirement to reflect Ohio's voter preference by party, which averages out to about 54% Republican and 46% Democratic based on the past 10 years of statewide election results.
Talks of coming up with a third proposal for House and Senate district maps revived on Tuesday after the commission failed to comply with a February 17 deadline to adopt new maps.
Following that deadline, the Ohio Supreme Court issued an order requiring members of the commission to explain why they should not be held in contempt. The court issued another ruling Thursday ordering the commissioners to appear in court on March 1 for further proceedings on the question of contempt.