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The Ohio House passed HJR 12 , which would change the way state legislative districts are created, if voters approve this amendment to the Ohio Constitution.  The hope is to make the redistricting process more bipartisan.  Modifications were made to the previous language of HJR 12.  See our prior post New Ohio Redistricting Idea Proposed with Only Weeks Left in the Legislative Session.

Like the prior version of HJR 12, a seven member redistricting commission will draw the district map, including the governor, auditor, secretary of state and four legislatively appointed members, one from each legislative body and each party.  However, the version of HJR 12 adopted by the House requires approval of a redistricting plan by TWO minority party members, not just one.  If two minority party members do not approve, then a public hearing will take place on a plan proposed by a majority of commission members.  The “simple majority” plan will be in effect for four years, as opposed to ten years.  This gives the majority party incentive to pass a plan now and compromise with the two minority party members, because in four years they may not be the elected majority party anymore.   The “simple majority” plan must also contain a statement explaining what the Commission determined to be the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio and the manner in which the statewide proportion of districts in the plan whose voters, based on recent election results, favor each political party corresponds closely to those preferences.

The current requirements for districts would also be changed by HJR 12, as adopted by the House.  See Legislative Service Commission Analysis for a comparison chart.  Supporters of HJR 12 say the plan provides the Ohio Supreme Court with more guidance as to whether the plan should be tossed out on a court challenge.  See Columbus Dispatch article, Proposed Revision of Redistricting is Progress, Expert Says.

Now it remains to be seen whether the Ohio Senate will adopt this plan, or some version of SJR 8, which was informally passed by the Senate.  SJR 8 requires that at least one minority party member must adopt the plan.  If one minority member does not approve the plan, a plan approved my majority vote can go into effect, but it must be approved by a vote of the people of Ohio.

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