As Ohio’s leaders struggle to hit the final deadline for state legislative districts, top lawmakers say they will likely miss a congressional district deadline later this month.
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said the Sept. 30 deadline for Ohio lawmakers to pass a map for congressional districts would be “difficult to meet.” Ohio will also lose a congressional seat because of slower population growth, bringing the total to 15.
The first deadline for congressional maps also requires a higher threshold of support from Republicans and Democrats: “yes” votes from 60% of lawmakers in the House and Senate and half of Democrats.
“There really hasn’t been any work done on congressional districts,” Huffman told reporters Wednesday. “We’d be starting new tomorrow in the hopes that we could draw a map in two weeks that could get this high level. I think that’s very impractical.”
If Ohio lawmakers don’t approve a congressional map by Sept. 30, the task shifts to the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission, which was negotiating until the 11th hour Wednesday on a map for state House and Senate seats.
When asked about the status of congressional maps, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, put it briefly: “There is no status. Unfortunately, there’s nothing there.”
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has until Oct. 31 to approve a congressional map with four “yes” votes and the support of both Democratic members.
If the commission doesn’t agree, lawmakers have until Nov. 30 to take another stab at it. At this point, they would still need 60% approval but only one-third of Democrats to make a 10-year map.
Or the Republican majority could create a map that would last only four years. Per new voter-approved rules, these districts couldn’t “unduly” favor or disfavor political parties, and must attempt to keep counties and municipalities whole.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.