Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ohio House passes redistricting legislation

Press Release:

Congressional Map Receives Bipartisan Support in Ohio House

Proposed fair and legal map garners support from Cuyahoga County Democrats

COLUMBUS—After months of diligent work and many regional hearings throughout Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 319, which establishes boundaries for Ohio’s 16 congressional districts based on the 2010 decennial census. The legislation—which passed with bipartisan support—adheres to the U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act to ensure that it respects all requirements set forth in law.

“I am very pleased with the hard work of Chairman Huffman and the members of the House State Government and Elections Committee in creating a map that is fair, legal and in the best interest of all Ohioans,” said Speaker of the House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “Most importantly, we have maintained a transparent process by taking the discussions to all corners of Ohio and soliciting the opinions of the people.”

“We held five regional hearings to gain feedback from Ohioans, and their suggestions and concerns were taken into consideration in drafting this proposal,” said State Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who serves as chairman of the State Government and Elections Committee. “I applaud the timely action by my colleagues in the House to pass this bill and ensure that county boards of elections have adequate time to prepare for upcoming elections.”

The map outlined in H.B. 319 treats incumbent candidates equally, with three Republican and three Democrat incumbents drawn into overlapping territories. It also complies with clear precedents of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court in ensuring that the civil rights of minority communities are protected in the redistricting process. Similarly, it creates an additional minority opportunity district in Franklin County.

However, despite the opportunity for bipartisanship in the redrawing of district lines, the House Republican Caucus did not receive a single suggestion for a congressional map from the House Democrats—even though the minority caucus was granted equal funding for such a project. Like all Ohioans, the House Democrats were encouraged to research and submit congressional map proposals for consideration by the State Government and Elections Committee.

“Although many Ohioans took the time to prepare maps for submission, I am disappointed that the House Democrat Caucus snubbed the opportunity to provide their own ideas, yet continue to criticize from the sidelines,” Huffman said. “This map will impact Ohioans for the next decade and will play an enormous role within our communities. All lawmakers have an obligation to represent their constituents by leading with common-sense, bipartisan solutions, not partisan rhetoric. However, I am extremely pleased that Representatives Barnes, Patmon and Williams expressed their support for this common-sense measure and recognized the benefits of this proposal for all Ohioans—Republican and Democrat, urban and rural.”

House Bill 319 has received the support of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, which “commends the House for working in a timely fashion to pass a congressional redistricting bill,” according to Executive Director Aaron Ockerman.

H.B. 319 will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration and debate.


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