Congressional redistricting hearing scheduled for Thursday; no vote expected

Speaker Cupp says congressional redistricting will be kicked back to legislature

By: - October 27, 2021 12:55 am

Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima. Source: Ohio General Assembly.

After weeks of questions and uncertainty, the Ohio Redistricting Commission is expected to have a hearing on the congressional mapmaking process Thursday, but is not expected to take a vote on any proposed maps.

Instead, Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp has said the legislature will take up congressional redistricting once the commission misses its Oct. 31 deadline. The legislature failed last month to introduce or consider maps, missing their Sept. 30 deadline and thus kicking the matter over to the commission, which is now also anticipated to miss its deadline after failing to meet, introduce, or consider maps the past month.

Representatives for both Cupp and Senate Democrats confirmed to the OCJ that a Thursday meeting is scheduled for the commission.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 313 (the House Finance room) at the Ohio Statehouse. On the agenda for the meeting is testimony “only from sponsors who submitted complete, statewide congressional district plans,” according to the meeting announcement released Tuesday afternoon.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission is currently facing a slew of lawsuits over the Statehouse district maps it passed 5-2 in a partisan vote in September.

The congressional redistricting meeting comes after the Democratic members of the commission, including co-chair state Sen. Vernon Sykes, sent letters to GOP leaders of the commission urging more action in the redistricting process.

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, who is also on the commission, sent a letter Monday to Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman, a fellow commission member, “requesting the General Assembly take the necessary steps to be able to consider congressional district maps should the Ohio Redistricting Commission fail to approve maps by their Oct. 31 deadline.

“On Monday, November 1st, the congressional maps will move back to the responsibility of the legislature and there are a number of decisions that will need made to be able to begin those deliberations,” Sykes wrote in a Tuesday statement.

The letter asks for the joint legislative committee to meet no later than Nov. 4, and for the release of details on “how many officials will be appointed to the committee.”

The state constitution requires the legislature to create a joint committee that will hear testimony from the public at least twice on a proposed map.

Leader Sykes also asked for details on the congressional plan by Nov. 10 and a public hearing schedule to be released with hearings starting no later than Nov. 15.

It’s not clear whether any of those issues will be addressed on Thursday. The legislature will face a new deadline of Nov. 30 for maps.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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