(The Center Square) – For the second time in a month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected a plan to change the redistricting process in the state. And, for the second time in a week, the state’s current redistricting efforts have been put on hold.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who had said he planned to call a Friday morning commission meeting, did not after Republicans failed to agree on who would serve as its co-chairman of the group. Democrats have selected their co-chairman.
No new meeting is scheduled on the commission’s website.
Democratic members of the commission blame the Republicans’ failure to move the process forward on a potential fight over who would be the House’s next speaker.
“It’s unfortunate we can’t get to work on behalf of the people of Ohio because of Republican infighting,” said Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood. “The Ohio Redistricting Commission is no place to play out a proxy war for the next Republican House speaker. Leader Russo and I continue to stand ready to serve the voters of Ohio to draw fair districts, and certainly hope we can do so as soon as possible.”
House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, and Antonio said until Republicans pick a co-chairman, rules for the commission cannot be set, a timeline for three constitutionally mandated statewide public hearings cannot be held, and maps cannot be introduced.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, also a commission member, has set a deadline on Friday of next week for new maps to be approved to meet other deadlines from next year’s primary election.
Democrats called that timeline unrealistic and an attempt to pass maps with little public input.
The commission consists of Republican members DeWine, LaRose, State Auditor Keith Faber, Rep. Jeff LaRe and Sen. Rob McColley, along with Democratic members Antonio and Russo.
As previously reported by The Center Square, state legislative maps last for 10 years if at least two members of each political party vote for the proposal. Each map presented previously received support from only the five Republican members of the commission. Neither of the two Democrats voted for any proposed map.
Eventually, a federal court implemented maps, twice ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court, to be used in a second primary in August 2022.
In May 2018, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that was expected to create a bipartisan redistricting commission. The commission consists of seven members – a member appointed by the Senate president, the House speaker, Senate minority leader and House minority leader, the governor, state auditor and the secretary of state.