COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It is set to be a late evening at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday as the Redistricting Commission works down to the wire to agree on new state legislative maps which will determine who will represent who, possibly for the next decade, and who will craft laws on behalf of you and your community.
Midnight Wednesday is the deadline to get this all tied up and ready to go. The commission has already missed the original Sept. 1 deadline.
The commission went into recess at approximately 10:30 a.m. and was supposed to return at 3 p.m., but that was pushed back by an additional five hours.
The commission was supposed to reconvene at 8 p.m. — four hours before the deadline — but as of 10 p.m., that hasn’t happened. Several commission members have come in and out of the meeting room since 8 p.m., but the commission remains behind closed doors.
The maps have not been present in the hearing room and a lot of what’s happening with the commission is pretty much all happening behind closed doors.
Both sides have had harsh criticism about the maps that have been presented, some at the hearings, saying it divides communities of color and focuses on benefitting the respective political parties.
People familiar with what is happening said at this point, it’s down to negotiations: What will each side give to the other to get this 10-year map through and approved by both Democrats and Republicans?
“The maps are very detailed,” said state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), co-chairman of the commission. “It has a lot of technical details with them, so time is needed and preparation to make sure what we’re voting on is clear and concise and something that would not need adjustments later.”
“Continue the negotiations,” said state Sen. Matt Huffman, Senate president. “We’ll probably have a late night tonight, so we’ll see what happens. I’m optimistic.”
At least two Republicans and two Democrats on the commission have to reach an agreement to get the 10-year map. Otherwise, the map will only last for four years.
According to a spokesman for the Ohio Senate Democrats, their proposed maps would have 57 of 99 Ohio House districts likely Republican. On the Senate side, 13 would lean Democratic while 20 would favor Republicans.
A proposal introduced by Republicans would give the GOP an edge in 65 of 99 House districts and 23 of 33 Senate districts.
“I think it’s going to be difficult to get it tonight, but discussions are certainly continuing, but I think there’s been significant progress made today and we’re getting down to very serious discussions about what is important,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said early Wednesday evening.