COLUMBUS — A bipartisan panel of Ohio senators and representatives is ready to begin its final push to approve the state’s new congressional map, a complicated but important task that could determine who speaks for Ohioans in the U.S. House in Washington for the next decade.
The new Joint Committee on Congressional Redistricting has scheduled meetings Wednesday and Friday to hash out a compromise on three proposals for the new U.S. House boundaries that are moving through the Legislature. House Republicans, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats all have laid out their own visions.
Under rules established by Ohio voters in 2018, the committee needs to hold two hearings before a vote can be taken. The deadline is Nov. 30, but legislative leaders had said they would like to complete the task sooner. If the two parties can’t agree, majority Republicans could approve a map without Democrats, but it would only hold for four years rather than 10.
States are required to redraw their congressional maps every 10 years to reflect updated U.S. Census figures. Due to lagging population, Ohio is losing one seat in the U.S. House — taking it from 16 to 15. That has factored into proposed maps that merge existing congressional districts, draw sitting U.S. House members out of districts and split and combine counties, cities and various pockets of political control in a host of ways.
Serving on the joint committee are: Sen. Theresa Gavarone and Rep. Shane Wilkin, chairs of their respective chambers’ government committees; Rep. Scott Oelslager, Sen. Rob McColley and Sen. Vernon Sykes, sponsors of various map proposals; and Rep. Beth Liston. All are Republicans, except Sykes and Liston, who are Democrats.