Posts Tagged 'Apportionment'

MUST READS: House Dems Forge Redistricting Compromise

Newspapers around the state reacted to the redistricting compromise agreed to by House Democrats yesterday. Common themes included relief at the end of a “long, messy process” (Columbus Dispatch) marred by “political wrangling and voter confusion” (Toledo Blade).

“The pact… consolidates what would have been two primaries into one on March 6. Holding one primary will save taxpayers an estimated $15 million” notes Aaron Marshall of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

On a local level, several constituencies saw improvements over the previous redistricting map. “The city of Toledo will be represented by two members of the U.S. House instead of three,” says the Blade, while the Dayton Daily News observes that “A major change in the new map from one passed in September was putting all of Montgomery County in one congressional district.”

Read the full articles:

 “State will have one primary March 6,” Columbus Dispatch

Redrawn map puts Toledo in 2 districts instead of 3,” Toledo Blade

Ohio lawmakers reach deal on congressional redistricting and single primary election,” Cleveland Plain Dealer

State, with 16 new U.S. House districts, will have 1 primary next year,” Dayton Daily News

See also articles here and here.

Rep. Phillips Statement on Redistricting Agreement

Assistant Minority Whip Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) released the following statement on the compromise to reunite the primaries and end the redistricting standoff. The compromised redistricting plan makes some improvements to congressional districts, takes the first steps towards necessary long-term reform and saves taxpayers from footing a more than $15 million bill for two primaries.

“After months of tough negotiations, I’m glad that we were finally able to get to a resolution on the impasse created by majority Republicans hyper-partisan redistricting process. We were able to include the creation of a task force to take real steps towards redistricting reform, and to reunite Ohio’s 2012 primaries,” said Rep. Phillips. “The map is slightly better than the one originally proposed by majority Republicans, but still splits many communities. Last week’s report, indicating the secret meetings in the ‘bunker’ with Republican operatives and donors, make it plain that their goal was not to create fair districts that represent the people of Ohio, but to protect their political cronies.”

“At the end of the day, I felt that it was my responsibility to protect Ohio taxpayers by finding a way to clean up the mess caused by this flawed process,” Rep. Phillips emphasized. “Redistricting has been badly mismanaged, and I urge the Inspector General and the Legislative Inspector General to investigate these abuses of the process. In the meantime, in order to reduce confusion for the voters, take steps towards reform, and save scarce resources, we came to a compromise yesterday.”

House Dems Stop GOP from Wasting Millions on Two Primaries and End Redistricting Standoff

Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi (D-49-Toledo)

Ohio House Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi released the following statement on the compromise to reunite the primaries and end the redistricting standoff.  The compromised redistricting plan makes some improvements to congressional districts, takes the first steps towards necessary long-term reform and saves taxpayers from footing a more than $15 million bill for two primaries.

“This fight has been about giving Ohioans a voice in the redistricting process and force a meaningful debate. We have seen this year just how badly this process is in need of change and are pleased that part of the agreement will include the first steps towards a meaningful bi-partisan reform.

“Creating two primaries was fiscally irresponsible and would have cost the state millions in precious funds at a time when funding to education, police and fire, and local government is being slashed.  By reuniting the primaries, Democrats have prevented voter confusion, likely legal chaos and saved the state more than $15 million in taxpayer dollars.”

Ohio gerrymander another GOP overreach

The Toledo Blade’s weekend editorial “Ohio gerrymandering another GOP overreach” is exactly what is happening here in Ohio.   The Republicans have rammed through countless extreme bills with Gov. Kasich at the helm and there is no sign of them slowing down. 

The new congressional redistricting map introduced and passed through the House in less than 48 hours and the proposed GOP drawn legislative maps will likely only further the political dysfunction we see in Columbus and Washington.  Blade Editor Dave Kushma wrote, “…The Republican elected officials in the Statehouse who are redrawing the districts for Ohio’s U.S. House delegation and General Assembly have made clear that their priority is making their party even more dominant. Promoting fair, competitive, and effective representation of Ohio voters for the next decade — especially in our part of the state — isn’t their concern.”

Democratic voters are being quarantined into roughly a third of the legislative districts and four congressional seats.  The result being some group votes will count significantly more than others.   In this broad and diverse state this kind of gerrymandering “turns the notion of proportional representation into a sick joke.”

Kushma continues writing, “On this issue and too many others, Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers have adopted an “in your face — we’ve got the votes” approach that defies opponents to do anything about their overreaching.

“They identified worthwhile changes to the state’s collective-bargaining process for public employees and included them in Senate Bill 5. But then, because they could, they larded the law with union-busting provisions that have nothing to do with saving money or running government more efficiently. That generated a ballot challenge in November.

“Similarly, GOP lawmakers passed an election “reform” law this year aimed at voter fraud that doesn’t exist. The real intent of the measure is to make it harder for folks who generally don’t vote Republican to vote at all.

“And now the map flap. Although the controversy over the new congressional districts has dominated the debate in Columbus, the state Apportionment Board plans to vote this week on new legislative districts.

…”

Read the full editorial here.

“What’s wrong with the reapportionment process”

As the Apportionment Board met in field hearings across the state last week news media across the state have been covering this process. The Toledo Blade editorial board called last week’s hearings “little more than an exercise in failed public relations.” Excerpts of the Blade editorial “Remapping Ohio” follow:

“Ohioans finally have a map that shows how the boundaries of state legislative districts can be redrawn to make them more compact and competitive. The map didn’t come from the state panel that is charged with redistricting the General Assembly.

“The Republican-dominated board isn’t likely even to acknowledge the map’s existence. That’s what’s wrong with the reapportionment process.

“Once a decade, the Ohio Apportionment Board adjusts legislative districts to account for population shifts identified in the U.S. Census. Typically, whichever party — Republican or Democratic — has a board majority uses that advantage to draw districts to gain seats in the state House and Senate.

“This year, four of the five board members are Republicans: Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Auditor Dave Yost, and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond). House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D., Beachwood) is the only Democrat.

“Among the Republicans, only Mr. Husted has expressed interest in making the process less partisan. Mr. Budish proposed several rule changes designed to expand public participation and make the process more transparent and less partisan. Republicans rejected them.

“The apportionment board just completed hearings across the state that offered the illusion of public input. But without even a tentative map to display, the hearings were little more than an exercise in failed public relations.

“Gerrymandering districts to maximize the political clout of either party is bad for democracy. It polarizes voters and encourages lawmakers to govern from the extremes rather than to seek consensus and compromise in the middle.

“When that happens at the state level, the result is the all-or-nothing partisan battle that surrounds Senate Bill 5. At the federal level, you get a minority of Republican lawmakers nearly pushing the nation into default in the debt-ceiling debate. That resulted in the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating.

“Into the state’s breach stepped the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, a coalition of good-government groups including the Ohio League of Women Voters, Ohio Citizen Action, and Common Cause. They sponsored a contest that asked the public to draw redistricting maps that would enhance partisan competition, split as few counties and communities as possible, and reflect the true political makeup of the state.

“It turns out that creating legislative districts that strengthen the two-party system and encourage reasonable political debate isn’t difficult, once the politics are removed.

“The top-scoring map was drawn by Mike Fortner, a Republican state representative — from Illinois…”

 Read the full editorial here.

Dem Leaders Push To Make Maps Public

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Carpi Cafaro announced that they will be introducing companion legislation that would require the Apportionment Board to make new state legislative district maps available for public and board input in advance of the required approval deadline.

“Public input should not be ignored in the important process of drawing new state legislative districts,” said Budish.  “If the process continues as it currently is, the public will have almost no opportunity to provide input about how their communities might be carved up and who their representative might be.”

This week, the Apportionment Board is conducting field hearings throughout the state, but no maps are available for discussion and public participation has been limited.  Hearings in Toledo, Lima, Cleveland and Akron produced few witnesses and no one showed up to testify in yesterday’s Canton hearing.

“It’s just common sense that the time for meaningful input is after proposed maps have been released to the public rather than before,” said Senator Cafaro.  “Otherwise, we end up with hearings that are a public relations exercise instead of constructive dialogue.  Clearly this process must change so we have a more responsive and less partisan government.”  

Previously, Budish proposed six rule changes in the first meeting of the Apportionment Board, including allowing for public input and feedback through field hearings once actual maps had been produced and not just on the process of Apportionment as this week’s field hearings do.  He also sought to require the board to rank plans according to compliance with the Ohio constitution, federal law, and any objective criteria the Board saw fit.  All six rule changes were rejected along party lines.

The proposed legislation would require maps to be made public three weeks before the boards deadline to approve a plan. It would also require four hearings throughout the state for public input once maps have been presented and made public.

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MUST READ: Toledo Blade “Focus on the voters”

During Monday’s Apportionment Board field hearing at the University of Toledo, witnesses and  Rep. Clyde highlighted the need for a fair and open process as the Republican-controlled Board redraws the boundaries of General Assembly districts. Excerpts from the Toledo Blade article by Tom Troy follow:

“A witness urged the Ohio Apportionment Board Monday in Toledo to redraw state House districts that are based on ‘compactness’ and ‘competitiveness,’ rather than on maximizing incumbent re-election chances.

“Catherine Turcer, director of the Ohio Citizen Action’s Money in Politics Project… called for more competitive districts that reflect the state’s relatively even distribution of Democrats and Republicans, instead of devising districts just to maximize the number of Republican-controlled House seats.

“’…I’m here to encourage you to focus on the voters rather than focusing on outcomes,’ Ms. Turcer said.

“Ms. Turcer thanked the board for its traveling hearings, but a couple of Democrats criticized the value of the meetings because no proposed maps have been published yet.

“‘This is a combination of a farce and a joke,’ said state Rep. Dennis Murray (D., Sandusky) of the 80th House district… They’re having a hearing before there’s anything to talk about.’

“State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D., Kent), a stand-in for apportionment board member Armond Budish (D., Beachwood), said the lack of maps rendered the hearings somewhat pointless.

“’This process I think is antiquated and kind of contrary to the will of the people,’ Ms. Clyde said. ‘I’m in the House, which is supposed to be the people’s house, but it doesn’t seem to reflect the will of the people. I just think the process stinks and Ohio deserves better. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have maps right now. The data’s been available since April.’

…”

Read the full article here.


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