breaking news

Springfield woman was substitute teacher in Texas high school; knew victims, accused shooter

Reformer says Republican plan wouldn't end gerrymandering

Marathon negotiations on competing plans to reform how Ohio draws its congressional district lines adjourned Wednesday without a deal and left one leader of a citizen coalition’s plan concerned that gerrymandering would not end under the Republican plan.

“There’s change in their proposal but not the kind of reform that is meaningful,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, which is one of the 33 groups in the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition. “They are unwilling to have a rule that you cannot favor certain political parties.”

RELATED: Negotiators working to get deal on Congressional redistricting reform 

She said a revised proposal announced on Monday by State Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, remained essentially unchanged even after negotiations that lasted all day and into the evening on Wednesday. The coalition and Democrats in the legislature rejected the changes announced by Huffman on Monday.

Turcer said Republicans continue to insist that counties can be divided into more than one congressional district, want language that does not specifically forbid the practice of drawing districts to favor one political party over another; and would still leave redistricting primarily in the hands of the state legislature, as it now is.

Huffman has said he does not plan to move his proposal to the May ballot without Democratic support in the House and Senate.

John Fortney, press secretary for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus, said Huffman’s revised plan increased the power of the minority party, limits to two the number of times a county can be split and which ones can be split and keeps 65 of the 88 counties in the state unsplit. It also allows a citizen referendum to overturn it, something the coalition’s proposal does not include, Fortney said.

“It’s called a negotiation for a reason and we’ve gone far past meeting them in the middle,” he said.

Related: Debate over how Ohio should draw congressional districts heats up

A spokesman for House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, also indicated that even as the Feb. 7 deadline for putting a reform issue on the May 8 ballot approaches “the work goes on.”

“Talks and negotiations on redistricting will continue over the weekend, and the House and Senate have each scheduled if-needed session days for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week,” said Brad Miller, press secretary for Rosenberger.

Fair Districts = Fair Elections is led by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio. The group has about 200,000 of the necessary 306,591 voter signatures to put a reform proposal on the November ballot.

Their proposal mostly mirrors the 2015 constitutional amendment that was approved by 71 percent of Ohio voters to amend how state legislative district lines are drawn. The coalition wants voters in November to approve a plan to put congressional redistricting in the hands of the Ohio Redistricting Commission consisting of the governor, secretary of state, state auditor and one person each appointed by the Ohio House and Senate majority and minority parties.

Map approval would need a majority vote, with at least two members of the minority party agreeing.

The coalition proposal would outlaw gerrymandering, minimize the splitting of counties and communities, require that districts be compact and nearly equal in population, mandate transparency in the process and require representational fairness using a 10-year tally of Ohio voters’ partisan preferences.

Related: Democrats reject GOP plan to change Ohio congressional districts

Congressional districts are drawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The last time it was done was 2011 when the Republican-controlled legislature drew lines that the coalition says resulted in gerrymandered districts.

Of the state’s 16 congressional districts, 12 are held by Republicans.

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey and Laura A. Bischoff 

Report: Trump to visit Cincinnati Monday

Cincinnati congressman did CPR, helped victims after train crash

Taylor challenges DeWine to a debate; says he knows he would lose

Governor race: DeWine, Cordray each raise $2M but DeWine has more cash

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Ohio

Local groups to aid veterans conforting Alzheimer’s disease
Local groups to aid veterans conforting Alzheimer’s disease

Veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder face a higher chance of battling Alzheimer’s disease, research shows, and a new local partnership aims to help veterans and their families confronting the disease, organizers say. About 5.7 million Americans have the disease and that number could nearly triple within 30 years...
Area woman worked with, knew Texas high school shooting victims
Area woman worked with, knew Texas high school shooting victims

A Springfield woman was a substitute at Santa Fe High School in Texas just before a mass shooter killed 10 people and injured 13 others.  Lisa Truitt was a teacher at South Vienna School in Clark County for 16 years before moving to Texas with her husband and youngest daughter.  She had been subbing in the Texas district for three months...
Kroger buys Home Chef in deal worth $700M; meal kits will be sold in stores, online
Kroger buys Home Chef in deal worth $700M; meal kits will be sold in stores, online

Kroger Co. is buying Home Chef, the country’s largest private meal kit company, in deal that could reach $700 million, according to the Cincinnati-based grocery chain. The initial transaction price is $200 million and future payments of up to $500 million over five years are contingent on achieving certain sales goals, the company said. The pending...
U.S. Senate votes to expand health care options for veterans
U.S. Senate votes to expand health care options for veterans

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a VA Health bill Wednesday that would expand the private health care options for veterans, extending and streamlining the current VA Choice program and providing $5.2 billion for that program. Both Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman voted for the bill, which embraces increased flexibility, allowing veterans to...
New York gang member found guilty of Atlanta student’s murder
New York gang member found guilty of Atlanta student’s murder

A New York gang member will serve a life sentence for the 2016 murder of a Clark Atlanta University student. >> Read more trending news  A Fulton County jury convicted Devin Kingdom, 24, of murder in the shooting death of 25-year-old Cierra Ford. Ford, a communications major at Clark Atlanta, was shot in the head when several accused...
More Stories