House committee approves congressional maps, full House vote Thursday
State Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, presents congressional redistricting maps to the House Government Oversight Committee on November 17. (Photo: Susan Tebben, OCJ)
The Ohio House is set to vote on congressional redistricting maps on Thursday, after a House committee passed the Senate GOP maps 8-5 along partisan lines in a Wednesday hearing.
The House Government Oversight Committee heard from state Sen. Rob McColley on Senate Bill 258, the congressional redistricting maps passed by the Senate the day before.
The map has seven Republican districts, two Democratic districts and six districts considered competitive under a 54-46 margin.
No public testimony was heard on Wednesday, but McColley fielded several questions from committee members who asked about the authors of the maps, the decision-making in splits to areas such as Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties, and how public input played into the new map.
“The constitution, in our reading, and I think it’s pretty clear, allows us to split up to five counties twice,” McColley said in response to state Rep. Brigid Kelly’s question as to why Hamilton County was split.
McColley said the population of Hamilton County, and the population of other counties larger than the target population of just over 780,000 in each district, led to the need for more splits.
Committee Democrats attempted to introduce an amendment, but the chair, state Rep. Shane Wilkins, said the amendment was out of order since no amendments were scheduled to happen during the meeting.
State Rep. Richard Brown said Democrats presented the amendment because the Nov. 30 deadline for approval of maps by the General Assembly is still two weeks away, allowing time for more conversations.
“The Democratic Caucus believes there should be a discussion of these maps and these issues, there really hasn’t been any discussion or compromise with Republicans on this issue,” Brown said.
Brown said Democrats are still aiming for a 10-year map, and McColley said it was always his goal to get a 10-year map, however he acknowledged his proposal “didn’t have the votes” to reach bipartisan support. For that reason, if the House approves the proposed map along party lines, it will only be effect for four years.
The House is expected to take up the issue at their session starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
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