Following months of negotiation, the Ohio House today passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, bipartisan legislation that puts a constitutional amendment before voters in May to restrict congressional gerrymandering in the state.
“After months of negotiation, thousands of Ohioans speaking out, and several false starts, we’re closer to stopping congressional gerrymandering today than we have ever been before. Though imperfect, this latest plan represents one of the most fundamental tenets of our American democracy – compromise,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “We support this plan today, with the hope and expectation that it will help impart that same spirit and guiding principle of cooperation on Washington in the near future.”
Democratic House expressed concerns over several parts of the proposed plan that they see as loopholes that, in extreme cases, could still allow partisan congressional district rigging. Ultimately, most Democrats still supported the final language in the resolution.
Each February, Black History Month raises awareness about the significant portion of the American story that African Americans have authored. From science and business to literature, the arts and public service, Black History Month highlights the struggles and triumphs of our nation.
State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation to establish the Ohio Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which would provide economic stability to working families in times of a medical emergency, when caring for a sick loved one, or welcoming a newborn into the family. While federal law provides some workers the ability to take leave, it does not provide those workers with any guarantees that they will have compensation while on leave.
State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) today provided sponsor testimony for House Bill (HB) 440, known as the Ohio Health Security Act, to establish a single-payer health care plan in Ohio. Medical, dental, mental health and vision services will be covered under the bill and payments to health care providers for all eligible services will be made from a single fund called the Ohio Health Care Fund.
“It is time to focus on patients, not profits,” Fedor said. “Health is a human right. The Ohio Health Security Act provides security, freedom, choice, stability, and certainty. No more guessing games, no more living one slip and fall away from bankruptcy.”
State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), the Democratic members of the legislature’s redistricting working group, released the following statement in response to the Republican plan released this evening:
“The Republican plan released tonight only makes cosmetic changes to a plan that writes gerrymandering into our state constitution. After lengthy discussions and significant public input, it is clear Republicans will not take the necessary steps to end partisan gerrymandering once and for all.
“By rejecting suggestions to keep communities together and require bipartisan support for new districts, Republicans are rejecting the bare minimum standards needed for real reform and diluting the power of voters. Ultimately, we feel we have the responsibility to listen to the Ohioans who have spoken out and demanded real reform.”
In Democrats’ continued push for real bipartisan congressional redistricting reform, Senate Democratic Leader Kenny Yuko (D- Richmond Heights) and House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released the following joint statement calling for continued negotiations:
“Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly are committed to ending gerrymandering once and for all. That’s why we agreed to join the redistricting working group in the first place, because bipartisanship should be the foundation of the redistricting process.
“Democrats are committed to requiring strong bipartisanship and stopping communities from being split apart to favor one party over another.
“Unfortunately, the Republican plan would only change the way a majority party could manipulate districts in the future. In fact, the GOP proposals would continue the problem of unfair congressional districts by writing gerrymandering into our state constitution.
“We want the citizens of Ohio to know that Democrats in the legislature remain dedicated to achieving meaningful reform. There is still time to negotiate and reach an agreement.”
State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio today responded to reports of victims of sexual harassment being publicly shamed and mocked by male legislators in front of some 100 legislators, lobbyists and staff Tuesday night at a staff going-away celebration on capitol square.
“Politicians who think it’s alright to publicly degrade, humiliate and make light of victims who have been sexually harassed and preyed upon by elected officials are part of the problem in America.
As state lawmakers debate Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 5, a Republican-led proposal to change the way Ohio draws its legislative districts, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus today urged state lawmakers to consider amending the bill to address concerns many voting rights and redistricting reform experts have regarding SJR 5.
“Gerrymandering has turned the idea of the ballot box being America’s great equalizer on its head, allowing politicians to choose their voters rather than having voters choose their politicians,” said OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “SJR 5 only makes what’s wrong with current law worse. SJR 5 keeps the authority to redraw districts within the state legislature and eliminates key controls that seek to end rigged districts and give Ohio voters fair representation.”
State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today panned the congressional redistricting proposal introduced this week by Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima). Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 5 removes public input from the redistricting process by eliminating the option of a citizen referendum, and retains a partisan advantage for the party in control of the state legislature.
“Taking the public out of the equation creates a rigged system that’s worse that what we currently have in place,” Boccieri said. “We should have the people picking their elected officials, not politicians picking who they want to represent."
SJR 5 tasks the General Assembly with drawing a map for congressional districts. The plan must be approved with a three-fifths majority of lawmakers, including one third of the minority party. Should the body fail to approve the plan, the job is transferred to the existing Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Commission’s plan must garner support from at least two minority party commission members. If two minority members consent, the map is valid for 10 years. If not, the map is only valid for four years before the process restarts. However, a four-year map could become a 10-year map with approval from the General Assembly.
“To suggest that a partisan group is the best choice to draw political maps is just insane. We’ve seen in cases across the country that partisan groups draw these districts to their advantage,” said Boccieri.
In addition to likely being unsuccessful in preventing gerrymandering, the resolution does not require the Governor’s signature because it is not a bill, eliminating yet another check on the fairness of the maps.
State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Mike O’Brien (D-Warren), Glenn W. Holmes (D-Girard) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today applauded the Ohio House for unanimously passing Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 8, which calls on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (USMDA) to select Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center as the preferred site for a future east coast Missile Defense system. MDA, a sub-agency of the Department of Defense (DOD), announced its consideration of Camp Ravenna among two other locations for a potential future deployment of additional ground-based interceptors for homeland defense.