COLUMBUS — Democratic legislative leaders in Ohio have rejected a proposal from the Republican Senate leader to address issues surrounding September deadlines for making state political maps with a constitutional amendment.
Instead, Senate Democratic Leader Kenny Yuko and House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes said Friday that they want to request leniency in the redistricting process from the Ohio Supreme Court.
At issue are constitutional deadlines for drawing congressional and General Assembly maps that can no longer be met due to pandemic-related delays to the 2020 Census results.
Senate President Matt Huffman presented his arguments for the constitutional amendment approach to reporters Tuesday. He said the plan wouldn’t move forward without bipartisan support.
Of most pressing concern is the timeline for drawing new Ohio General Assembly districts, a process that current constitutional language requires to be completed by Sept. 1 for a 10-year map under new, more bipartisan rules approved by Ohio voters. The Constitution gives until Sept. 15 to pass a four-year map whose lines would be controlled by the Legislature’s Republican majority.
Current constitutional wording requires maps of Ohio’s congressional districts — which were reduced to 15 with the release of new Census data Monday — to be complete by Sept. 30.
The U.S. Census Bureau has said it anticipates detailed population data to arrive in the states around Aug. 16 — more than four months after the April 1 date on which it normally arrives. That creates an incredibly short, perhaps impossible, window for producing both maps, holding public hearings and incorporating citizen feedback.