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Politics

Ohio Redistricting Commission Sets Two Meetings In One Day, Republicans Will Propose Maps

 Areeqe Hammad, of Cleveland, testifies at the first public hearing of the Ohio Redistricting Commission at Cleveland State University, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in Cleveland.
Julie Carr Smyth
/
AP
Areeqe Hammad, of Cleveland, testifies at the first public hearing of the Ohio Redistricting Commission at Cleveland State University, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in Cleveland.

Majority caucus leaders in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate have been working behind the scenes on a new state legislative district map for the 99 seats in the Ohio House and 33 seats in the Ohio Senate.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he's looked over the maps with Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), co-chair of the commission, and believes they're close to a compromise.

"When you look at it in some specific locations -- some of the districts are either identical or largely the same. It's just sort of like 'well do you wanna go this way, or do you wanna go that way' and it works out the same," Huffman said.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has scheduled two meetings forThursday at 10 a.m. and p.m.

The Republican maps are expected to be presented and eventually accepted as the official proposal for the commission to use as a rough draft. Then the commission will amend that map following three public hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.

All that must be done by September 15, a deadline set in the Ohio Constitution after voters approved reforms to the redistricting process in 2015. The commission already missed a September 1 deadline to put a proposed map before the public for hearings.

But Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), who’s not on the commission, said it is possible to meet the last deadline.

"That's an aggressive schedule, make no mistakes about it. But we've been up against tougher schedules before, and we've done it," Yuko said.

The Senate Democrats have proposed a map. House and Senate Republicans are expected to offer their plan soon, with two commission meetings planned on Thursday.

Members of the commission have blamed the delay in U.S. Census Bureau data as the reason for missing the September 1 deadline. However, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) has been calling on the commission to convene for several months and said the leaders could have put in work ahead of time in order to hit the ground running once the data arrived.

The plan laid out by Senate Democrats follows recent statewide election results, creating districts that split 54% favorable to Republicans and 46% favorable to Democrats.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.