Ohio Districts - Putnam Sentinel

OHIO — On Tuesday, in an 83-10 vote, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Joint Resolution 5, paving the way for Ohio voters to have a say in how the State’s congressional districts are drawn. The action in the House followed Monday’s unanimous approval of the measure in the Ohio Senate.

The big push to get the piece of legislation through both houses was likely two-fold. One, the legislature faced a deadline of Thursday, Feb. 7, to get the resolution on the May ballot. Two, it circumvents a referendum initiated by a citizen action group — Fair Districts = Fair Elections — poised for placement before voters, if not in May, then in the November election.

Regardless, the effort represents months of bipartisan effort and a compromise between both parties and the public coalition.

“While often times we make a big deal out of little things that happen in the legislature, this is a time to acknowledge that something big really did happen,” Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a release on Tuesday. “Congressional redistricting reform will change the future of Ohio politics and has the potential to change our government in Washington, too. To do something this big on a bipartisan basis is worth celebrating, and I want to congratulate everybody who was a constructive voice in making it happen.”

Cliff Rosenberger, Ohio’s Speaker of the House, called the resolution an “historic compromise” at a time when political compromise is increasingly rare, both in Ohio and nationally.

As a consequence of the bipartisan effort, Ohioans in May will have the opportunity to effect change in the redistricting process and impact politicians’ politicians’ ability to draw districts so as to favor incumbents or political parties.

Proposed changes addressed in the resolution require half of the minority party’s votes to approve a congressional district map for 10 years. If lawmakers fail to pass a map with bipartisan support, the seven-member redistricting commission in charge of Statehouse maps — established in 2014 —would then have the opportunity to draw a map.

If the commission fails to pass a map with two minority party members’ approval, the legislature gets another chance to pass a map. If it cannot get one-third of the minority to vote for a map, it is only good for four years instead of 10 and must adhere to stricter criteria for splitting communities.