Senate Budget Would Allow GOP Leaders To Hire Lawyers In Ohio Map Disputes

Jun 15, 2021

Republicans in the Senate have added to their budget a provision that could directly affect the upcoming process to draw new maps for a 15-member Congressional delegation – down from 16 – and the Ohio House and Senate.

The provision would allow only the Senate President and the Speaker – currently both Republicans – to use state dollars to hire outside attorneys to intervene in disputes over maps before the Ohio Supreme Court. Usually the attorney general defends state laws. Republican Dave Yost currently occupies that office.

Policy issues are added to budgets every time, including raising the age to buy tobacco to 21, creating the 2020 presidential primary on St. Patrick's Day, and provisions over several budgets limiting access to abortion. Gov. Mike DeWine had even attempted to put elements of the gun regulations he had proposed after the 2019 Dayton mass shootings into his budget, though the House took them out and the Senate did not restore them.

But Jen Miller from the League of Women Voters says the budget is supposed to be a financial document.

“Instead, what we have are these last-minute legislative power grabs that really weaken one of the building blocks of our representational democracy, which is the separation of powers," Miller said in a forum on redistricting sponsored by the City Club of Cleveland.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said this guarantees the legislature a seat at the table in legal disputes.

Huffman had wanted to ask voters to move the map drawing deadlines because Census data is being delayed. But Democrats had wanted the courts to decide that.

The House would have to agree to the provision before it could go to the governor.