Ohio Gov. John Kasich last year called for an end to Political Gerrymandering, and this year he plans to push lawmakers to change how Congressional Districts are drawn by including Redistricting reform in his state Budget.
Ohio has 16 Congressional seats: 4 solidly Democratic Districts and 12 Republican.
"Safe Districts" used to empower Legislators to lead with cooler heads, Kasich said, but now they force them to "live in fear" of losing Primary Elections to candidates with more extreme platforms. "Why is it that things don't get done? Because everybody's locked down and there is at times a fundamental intolerance for another point of view," Kasich told reporters gathered for a Bill signing ceremony. "How are you supposed to get people together?"
Kasich acknowledged Lawmakers will likely remove the Proposal from the Budget Bill because it's not relevant to State Appropriations. "If they want to declare it not germane, then let them do it and then answer for it," Kasich said.
Analysis of Ohio Election results shows how one Party can widen its control in Congress by creatively drawing Congressional District lines. In Ohio, Republicans have won 75% of the seats with just 55% of the Vote in the last two Elections.
Kasich said the proposal would be similar to the process voters approved in 2015 for drawing Statehouse Districts. Starting in 2021, Statehouse Districts will be drawn by a seven-member Commission composed of the Governor, Secretary of State, state Auditor, and two members from each Chamber and from each of the Majority and Minority Parties. Votes from two Minority members are required to pass a map.
That measure had Bipartisan support in the Ohio House and Senate and passed with 71% of Voters.
But Statehouse Republicans, who control both Chambers, have been reluctant to change the process for Congressional Districts. In 2016, every Ohio incumbent won Re-election with at least 60% of the Vote.
Leaders of both chambers recently indicated they wouldn't tackle the issue anytime soon.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has said Lawmakers should wait and see how the State Redistricting process works before making similar changes to the Congressional process. He told reporters last month that Congressional Redistricting was a valuable State check on Federal power. "This is another function of our state legislature that we need to make sure we look at a way to keep within our grasp and make sure it's something that we do and think out extremely well," Rosenberger said.
Senate President Larry Obhof said last month he was open to discussing Redistricting but he wasn't eager to take away power from the Legislature. "Any time we're talking about changing or taking away what is one of the fundamental responsibilities of the legislature, we should be pretty cognizant of that," Obhof said.
Meanwhile, Redistricting Reform Advocates with the group Fair Districts = Fair Elections are working on a Ballot measure to put before Voters if the Legislature doesn't act this year.
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