(The Center Square) – After two years, the Ohio Redistricting Commission plans to submit state legislative district maps to the state Supreme Court today that could last the rest of the decade.
The commission met late into Tuesday night before unanimously approving maps shortly after 10:30 p.m. If approved by the court and barring any legal challenges, the maps met the constitutional requirement of bipartisan support and will last until the next census numbers in 2030.
“Tonight, we proved that good faith negotiations with our colleagues from both sides of the aisle guided by the process approved by the voters to draw legislative districts can work exactly the way it was intended to work, when not undermined by out-of-state special interest groups,” commission member Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, said in a statement. “I’m very pleased with the bipartisan effort that produced maps that will remain in place for the rest of the decade.”
Tuesday marked the first time the commission passed maps with support from both parties. Five previous maps received no Democratic support and were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. A federal court eventually instituted one of those versions for a second primary last year, as previously reported by The Center Square.
“I do appreciate the effort of the members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission who worked hard to find a compromise, as illustrated by the final amended map. We collectively produced better, fairer maps. However, this cycle of redistricting has made it clear that this process does not belong in the hands of politicians,” said commission member and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood.
The maps give Republicans the opportunity to hold or grow their supermajority in both the House and Senate.
The House maps include 59 solid Republican districts, three leaning toward the GOP and 30 solid Democratic maps, with eight leaning toward Democrats. Eleven districts are considered statistical toss-ups.
In the Senate, 20 districts are strongly Republican, and three lean to the GOP. Nine are strongly Democratic, and one leans to Democrats. Three others are considered toss-ups.
House Minority Leader Allison Russo, also a commission member, voted for the maps but criticized the process and lobbied for the process to be removed from politicians.
“My vote was not a show of support for these maps, but an action to take the process out of the hands of politicians and help move us forward to a direction where the rightful owners of these maps – the people – have the final say,” Russo said in a statement. “The harsh reality is you can’t ungerrymander gerrymandered maps when those in control are unwilling to give up unearned power. Every step of this process has been nothing but political.”
The commission, which also includes Republicans Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, State Auditor Keith Faber and Rep. Jeff LaRe, plans to meet again Friday to handle technical amendments, potential changes or court rulings.