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.