Republicans and Democrats in the Ohio Senate and House reached an historic compromise agreement early this morning to reform the process by which Ohio draws state legislative districts.  Tonight’s success comes after years of discussion and months of negotiation.
“Tonight we took an important step forward together, not as Democrats and Republicans but as Ohioans,” said Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley). “The current unbalanced system for drawing districts is a leading cause of political dysfunction and the people of Ohio deserve better.  Working together to solve a problem that has vexed our state for decades, we are presenting our constituents with a solution that is fair, bipartisan and transparent.
The Senate passed an amended version of House Joint Resolution 12, with a bipartisan vote of 28 to 1. It now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote, expected next Wednesday, December 17. Upon concurrence from the House, the plan will be put before Ohio voters in the November 2015 election.
The legislation creates a Redistricting Commission composed of seven members: three statewide elected officials - the governor, secretary of state and state auditor, and four members of the legislature - two members of Senate with one representing the minority and two members of the House also with one representing the minority.
The Redistricting Commission would commence in 2021 with the responsibility of drawing Ohio legislative districts based on the next census. Approval of the map requires four members of the commission, including two votes from the minority party. If a bipartisan map is passed, the legislative districts would be in effect for 10 years until the next census.  If the vote is not bipartisan, an “impasse” provision allows the map to go into effect for four years, at the end of which time the Commission would reconvene to redraw and pass a new map that would go into effect for the remaining 6 years. Maps drawn under the impasse procedure would be subjected to more stringent standards constraining possible partisan excesses.
A key Senate amendment to HCR 12 included the timing of when impasse maps would be drawn if no bipartisan solution was reached.
“It was very important to our chamber to preserve the institutional integrity of the Senate in order to provide consistency for the constituents in our senate districts,” LaRose continued. “I appreciate the commitment, collegiality and reasonable approach of everyone involved in the negotiations.”

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