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Ohio News

All eyes are on the Ohio Supreme Court as it looks at the fourth set of maps

OGT/Ohio Channel
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Two new maps have been adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. And they aren’t the ones independent mapmakers have been drawing for days. Instead, the majority of Republicans on the commission approved a tweaked version of earlier maps ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, Governor Mike DeWine told reporters the commission should pass maps by the court's midnight deadline.

“The court order says we are supposed to approve a map. The court order does not provide for a continuance of that time. So the goal has to still be to get a map,” DeWine said.

The five Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission - Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor Keith Faber, Senate President Matt Huffman, Speaker Bob Cupp and Secretary of State Frank LaRose - look at draft maps before the Commission's meeting on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Karen Kasler
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Statehouse News Bureau
The five Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission - Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor Keith Faber, Senate President Matt Huffman, Speaker Bob Cupp and Secretary of State Frank LaRose - look at draft maps before the Commission's meeting on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

Republicans on the commission had questioned the process being used by the independent mapmakers during their four days of drawing maps for Ohio's House and Senate districts. On Saturday, Republican Senate President Matt Huffman told mapmakers they should put addresses of current lawmakers on working maps for consideration in future iterations. That didn't happen. But Democratic Minority Leader Allison Russo was quick to point out incumbency was not a factor that the state's high court said should be considered when drawing the lines.

By the time the commission voted on the maps late last night, some of the people who have been watching the process play out in real life had gathered in the hearing room. And when the motion was made last night to adopt the revised Republican-backed maps, several of them shouted out their opposition. They yelled out "No, no, no, no, shame on you and cheater" as the vote was being taken. Democratic Committee Co-Chair Vernon Sykes asked the crowd to quiet down and they did. And minutes later, some of them were asked to leave by the Ohio State Highway Patrol officers who guard the Statehouse.

 Ohio State Highway Patrol asks audience members at the Ohio Redistricting Committee meeting to leave the hearing room
Katy Shanahan
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All on the Line
Ohio State Highway Patrol asks audience members at the Ohio Redistricting Committee meeting to leave the hearing room

In the end, the independent mapmakers produced some House and Senate district maps before the midnight deadline set by the court but Republicans on the committee said there were just too many questions about them. Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp raised concerns about compactness and cited areas where he said the mapmaker's maps didn't conform with the constitutionally mandated requirement.

Redistricting reform backers like Katy Shanahan with All on the Line said it was “another gutted blow” and adds those should have been used.

“We just lit $49,000 of taxpayer-funded money for those independent mappers on fire because, at the last minute, Republicans had yet another set of maps that they had drawn behind closed doors,” Shanahan said.

Now the question is what the Ohio Supreme Court will do. It could reject the maps passed last night or even retained the right to hold commission members in contempt of court. In the meantime, redistricting reformists say they are talking about waging yet another ballot issue to change the process.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.