“The push to reform redistricting in Ohio” Channel 19 6/9/2017
DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -An Ohio group is trying to change the way congressional districts are drawn in the Buckeye State.
The link is here
Here is excerpt:
From Mike Curtin speech
at League of Women Voters of Ohio
Statehouse Day 4/11/18
One of the first league initiatives I learned about was one to bring fair districting to our state. That was 45 years ago. The league’s work never stopped, through Democratic governors and Republican governors. Within Democratic-controlled legislatures and Republican-controlled legislatures. Consistency. Relentlessness.
The league’s efforts – your efforts — were indispensable to securing the ballot issue of November 2015, a state constitutional amendment providing Ohioans with a historic reform of how we draw state legislative districts.
It was that success that provided the essential momentum for securing the ballot issue we face next month, giving Ohioans the opportunity to embrace a historic reform of how their state draws congressional districts as well.
Putting the voters first.
All of us have an obligation to keep working through May 8 to ensure that State Issue 1 not only gets over the finish line, but that it wins with a sizable majority – as Beth Taggart has reminded me, and Ann Henkenerhas just reminded all of us – so that all future legislators are reminded of to their moral obligation to stick to the rules when drawing congressional district lines.
The Ohio Democratic Party and the Ohio Republican Party have officially endorsed State Issue 1. Please give not only yourselves – but especially your countless predecessors – a round of applause for this historic achievement. It has only taken the entire history of our state of Ohio to get to this moment.
Michael F. Curtin
Columbus Dispatch link is here
Fairer districts would be refreshing twist
The districts cynically split counties, cities, villages, townships and neighborhoods. The current map splits county boundaries 54 times. Seven counties are split among three or more congressional districts.
The districts twist and turn like snakes and other creatures, none more blatantly than the 9th Congressional District, which slithers along the Lake Erie shore from Toledo to Cleveland.
Central Ohio’s three congressional districts also are geographic absurdities, needlessly dividing neighborhoods, school districts, other governmental units and their concerns. Ohioans deserve congressional districts that respect them and the communities in which they live.
Contorted, meandering districts, in Ohio and other states, are a prime reason congressional politics are poisonous — as partisan and ugly as ever in modern times. They encourage extremism, discourage bipartisanship, and sabotage efforts to find common ground.
Fortunately, Ohioans soon might have an opportunity to support a statewide ballot issue to end gerrymandering in our state.
A coalition of nonprofit organizations, called Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, has submitted a plan to the Ohio attorney general to place an issue on the statewide ballot in November 2017 or November 2018.
Once the attorney general’s office validates the summary language as fair and truthful, it goes to the Ohio Ballot Board for certification.
The reform coalition then must gather at least 305,591 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters — 10 percent of the number voting in the most recent election for governor.
The plan should win wide acceptance, chiefly because it mirrors the reform plan for state legislative districts overwhelmingly approved by Ohio voters (71.5 percent) in November 2015. It won big in all 88 counties.
The current districts were drawn in 2011 and will stay in place until after the 2020 census. New districts must be drawn in 2021 in time for the 2022 elections.
The proposed plan would take the map-drawing job away from the state legislature and give it to the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission. The commission would be required to draw districts that are compact, do not favor or disfavor any political party, and keep communities together as much as possible.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio, one of the coalition partners, has been working doggedly on this issue for four decades, through Democratic and Republican administrations and legislatures. The league deserves widespread support for its steadfast efforts to add Ohio to the ranks of states putting citizen interests ahead of power politics.
Details of the proposed amendment, and information on getting involved, can be found at fairdistrictsohio.org.
Fortunately, in the past year some of Ohio’s leading Republicans have challenged their party to take a lead role in ending gerrymandering. They include Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted and former governors Bob Taft and (the late) George Voinovich.
Several years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — an appointee of Ronald Reagan — said of gerrymandering: “It is unfortunate that when it comes to apportionment, we are in the business of rigging elections.”
Ohioans of every political stripe should embrace this opportunity to slay the gerrymander and end rigged elections.
Editorial: Protect integrity of Ohio’s constitution
Columbus Dispatch 4/2/2017
The link is here
Ohio voters should be given the opportunity to ease the process of initiating state laws.
They also should be given the chance, in a separate ballot issue, to decide if initiating constitutional amendments should be more difficult.
Both would require amending the Ohio Constitution, which only voters can do.
For nearly three years, a committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission has studied possible changes in initiated statutes and initiated amendments.
Only 15 state constitutions give voters the right to initiate both laws and amendments. The Ohio Constitution has provided those rights since 1912.
Since then, Ohioans using their constitutional rights to engage in direct democracy overwhelmingly have favored the amendment over the statutory route.
Of 80 attempts to initiate policy, petitioners have chosen to try to amend the constitution 68 times (85 percent). Initiated laws have been adopted only three times, most recently in 2006 to restrict smoking in public places.
Statehouse Democrats and Republicans agree that petitioners usually choose the amendment route for two reasons.
First, the requirements for getting on the ballot are nearly as difficult, and therefore nearly as costly, for a proposed law as for a proposed amendment.
Qualifying a proposed law for the ballot requires petitioners, as a first step, to collect signatures equal to 3 percent of the electorate. The proposal then goes to the General Assembly, which has four months to adopt, reject or modify it.
If the legislature rejects or modifies the proposal in a way unacceptable to petitioners, they must restart the petition drive and collect an additional 3 percent, totaling 6 percent of the electorate.
Second, even if Ohioans proposing an initiated law are successful in the election, nothing prevents the legislature from later repealing or amending the voter-approved statute.
Given these disincentives, petitioners rationally choose the amendment route. Voter-approved amendments, like the rest of the constitution, can only be changed by a public vote.
As a result, over time the Ohio Constitution becomes weighted with ornaments more suited to the Ohio Revised Code, such as livestock-care standards and casinos.
That’s why the modernization commission is considering how to ease the process of initiating state laws, and how to make the amendment process more difficult.
An idea gaining momentum is to create a 5 percent signature requirement for initiated laws, eliminate the supplementary petition requirement, and prohibit the General Assembly from changing any voter-enacted law for five years, except by a two-thirds vote.
Such a proposal has merit standing alone. However, majority Republicans appear intent on marrying it to a proposal requiring proposed amendments to receive 55 percent approval to win passage. Republicans also want to restrict initiated amendments to general elections in even-numbered years.
Some states have supermajority requirements for voter-initiated constitutional amendments. Florida, for example, requires 60 percent approval. Nevada requires a majority vote in two consecutive elections.
There is much to commend efforts to make initiated laws easier and initiated amendments harder.
However, the cleanest way to present these alternatives to voters is in two separate issues, not a combined one. When dealing with proposed changes to fundamental constitutional rights, voters should have an opportunity to judge each on its own merits.
Originally appeared in Columbus Dispatch. Reprinted with permission
Reprinted by permission
Original link is here
Editorial: Ohio Constitution deserves bipartisan review
Columbus Dispatch 3/23/2107
State lawmakers should grant a reprieve to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. The 32-member body, diligent but underappreciated, is set to expire prematurely at the end of this year.
The unapologetic executioner is state Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, who — as Senate president last session — slipped a poison pill into the state budget to kill the commission.
Now that Faber again is a House freshman, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and Senate President Larry Obhof have an opportunity to redress Faber’s petulance, show prudence, and allow the commission to fulfill its original promise.
Under the leadership of former Speaker William G. Batchelder, the commission began in October 2011. It was given a decade to work, to expire July 1, 2021.
The Ohio Constitution deserves a periodic, methodical and bipartisan review, which is what has been occurring since the commission got rolling in 2014.
The late start was largely attributable to Faber’s reluctance to help get commissioners appointed and staff hired.
The constitution, 166 years old, is the nation’s sixth oldest. At nearly 57,000 words, it’s the 10th longest. With such age and length comes obsolete provisions and archaic constructions.
Because the state is not likely to hold another state constitutional convention in the foreseeable future (the last was in 1912), a bipartisan commission of respected individuals should be impaneled once every two decades to examine potential amendments for a public vote.
Since 2014, the commission has performed valuable service. It paved the way for two amendments approved by Ohio voters in November 2015, providing for apportionment reform and anti-monopoly safeguards.
Near the end of last year, the commission sent to the General Assembly proposals to eliminate several obsolete sections of the constitution. If sent to the ballot and approved by voters, they would eliminate:
‒ Courts of conciliation, created in 1851 to allow resolution of disputes outside the traditional legal process. They’ve never been used, and long ago were replaced by modern arbitration proceedings.
‒ The Supreme Court Commission, created in 1875 to relieve backlogs of cases. It has not been used since 1885.
‒ Sections authorizing specific debt and bonding authority for projects long ago accomplished with debts long ago paid off.
‒ Provisions on the Sinking Fund Commission, whose responsibilities long ago were taken over by the state treasurer.
Like the legislature itself, the commission works through standing committees, which hear testimony and compile research. The commission’s body of research, available on its website, is a model of objective, detailed analysis — a treasure for researchers and policymakers.
The commission has not yet dived into the constitution’s sections on the executive branch, the elective franchise, the militia, and a few other areas.
One of its committees is attempting to find compromise on an amendment that would make it easier for voters to enact initiated laws, but more difficult to enact initiated amendments.
This is highly sensitive territory, requiring bipartisan diplomacy and outreach to a broad spectrum of interest groups.
Since 1912, the Ohio Constitution has given voters the power to directly initiate constitutional amendments, bypassing the General Assembly. Ohio is one of only 16 states with that provision, and one of only 11 where enactment requires only a simple majority vote.
The committee has discussed requiring a 55 percent vote to amend the constitution. This deserves patient, extensive review. Pulling the plug on the commission sends the opposite message — one of callous indifference.
Amended Senate Joint Resolution 1 LaRose/Sawyer 1/2014
“Gerrymandering 101 and Petition Training”
Aug 30, 2017 South Euclid Library
Congressional Redistricting in Ohio is an overdue and extremely important way to improve our democracy. Find out why and learn how to do something about it at our “Gerrymandering 101 and Petition Training” session at South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch Library August 30 @ 7pm. Please come and do something positive to make Ohio better
DATE AND TIME
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
7:00 p.m. EDT
South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library,
1876 S Green Rd, South Euclid, OH 44121
“Redistricting and Voting Rights in Ohio” August 25, 2016
Representative Kathleen Clyde (D), Ohio House District 75
Dr. John C. Green, Director, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics
Senator Frank LaRose (R), Ohio Senate District 27
Moderator: Thomas Suddes, Editorial Writer, Cleveland.com
As with weather, everyone talks about gerrymandering — drawing legislative districts to favor one party over another — but until recently, few in Ohio were prepared to do anything about it. Nonetheless, Ohio has recently reformed how its draws General Assembly districts — and reform of congressional “districting” is on some Columbus agendas. This panel explores the hows and whys.
CWRU Siegal Facility, 26500 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood OH 44122
Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Co-sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Cleveland.com, Plain Dealer plus Lakewood and Cuyahoga County Library Systems
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Properties, Ltd.
Ohio’s Constitutions: An Historical Perspective Barbara A. Terzian Ohio Wesleyan University 2004