Senate District 22
Larry Obhof
Senate Passes Historic Congressional Redistricting Reform Plan With Bipartisan Support
February 5, 2018

Columbus – With unanimous, bipartisan support, the Ohio Senate today passed a plan to reform the process for drawing Ohio’s congressional districts. The passage of Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 5 follows weeks of negotiations between the leadership of both parties in the General Assembly and various redistricting reform coalitions.

“This plan establishes a responsible map making process that requires bipartisan support and keeps communities together,” said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina).

The reforms keep communities together by limiting divisions of counties, townships and municipalities.

  • Sub. S.J.R. 5 specifies that at least 65 counties will be kept whole and limits how many total county splits can occur.

  • Cleveland and Cincinnati will remain whole within their districts.

The plan requires significant support from both parties, ensuring a map with bipartisan approval.

  • Step one: A 10-year map proposed by the General Assembly requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber with 50% of the minority party’s vote. If there is no agreement on the initial map, the process moves to the bipartisan Redistricting Commission, which Ohio voters approved in 2015.

  • Step two: A 10-year map drawn by the 7-member Commission requires two minority votes to pass. If that effort fails, the map drawing responsibility moves back to the legislature.

  • Step three: A 10-year map requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber with a one-third vote of the minority party. If the required votes are not obtained, a 4-year map can be passed with a simple majority, but it cannot be drawn to unduly favor or disfavor one political party.

More highlights include:

  • Preserving and protecting voters' civil rights.

  • Protecting the governor’s ability to veto a map.

  • Maintaining Ohioans’ ability to file a referendum against a congressional map.

  • Clarifying that a court challenge can be brought to an entire map not just individual districts.

Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima), sponsor of Sub. S.J.R. 5, added, “This plan ends the process of stretching districts far across the state, while maintaining the importance of the historic Voting Rights Act. I appreciate the long hours and hard work that many put into reaching today’s solution, and I’m proud of the plan we are able to deliver to the people of Ohio.”

Sub. S.J.R. 5 now moves to the Ohio House for consideration. Once passed by the General Assembly, Sub. S.J.R. 5 will go to the May ballot for Ohio voters to approve. 

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