Central Ohio Lawmakers Applaud Redistricting Compromise
Franklin County’s two sitting Congressional representatives are happy about the redistricting compromise heading for the May ballot.
The deal, passed by the Ohio General Assembly this week, leaves the responsibility for divvying up Ohio’s Congressional map in the hands of state representatives, but places limits on the division of counties and requires at least half of the minority party’s members to sign on.
Despite difficult talks that spanned weeks, the plan eventually garnered widespread support from both Republicans and Democrats, and passed by an eight-to-one margin. It also won support from the Fair Districts Fair Elections coalition, a citizens' group that planned to put its own redistricting plan before voters in the fall.
U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, a Republican from Upper Arlington, supports the plan but says he would have gone about it differently.
“I think we should try to keep cities together because cities are really the political geography that matter the most,” Stivers says. "But you know, I don’t think that I have to get everything that I want and counties are O.K.”
Franklin County’s only other sitting U.S. Representative is voicing support for the agreement, too.
"The bipartisan redistricting plan is the final product and culmination of countless hours of hard work by state lawmakers, organizations and stakeholders," said Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus. "I support the agreement that will be voted on in May.”
Fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo chimed in with her support on Twitter.
A good step for our democracy and for the people of Ohio. Fair districts would keep communities together, not stretch them apart. #FairMapsNowhttps://t.co/FgP7WuJCNC— Marcy Kaptur (@RepMarcyKaptur) February 6, 2018
In addition to restrictions on dividing counties and requirements for bipartisan support, the Statehouse plan includes contingency measures in case lawmakers can’t agree. Map-making responsibilities would first pass to a commission headed by the governor, but if that group fails to reach consensus, the map bounces back to the legislature.
But the requirements for that second pass in the legislature give Stivers pause.
“In the final step it uses the word you can’t ‘unduly’ split [a county]—well what does that mean?” Stivers says. “And we’re going to have to litigate probably, or could have to litigate, what the word ‘unduly’ split means.”
Stivers contends the language against favoring incumbents or parties is similarly hazy.
The Statehouse plan would apply to the next round of redistricting taking place after the 2020 census, but it needs the approval of Ohio voters before taking effect.