COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lack of support for a congressional redistricting plan could shift if Republican lawmakers take up a package of amendments proposed by Senate Democrats this week.
The resolution needs to be voted through both legislative chambers by February 7th if lawmakers plan to get it on the May primary ballot.
The Senate resolution was scheduled to be voted out of committee Wednesday, but that vote was put on hold after the amendment was introduced.
Two hearings in separate House of Representatives committees were added to this week’s committee agendas and then promptly struck.
There are several items in the amendments including the return of both Governor veto power over the map, and voter referendum options; both items were not part of the original plan.
It also adds specific language found in Issue 1, which was passed by voters overwhelmingly in 2015, to how the map was to be drawn.
According to Senate Democrats, the amendment package is fragile, and if Republicans think they can cherry pick what they want out of it the package will fall apart quickly.
State Senator Vernon Sykes says there is a little wiggle room, but not much.
Several GOP lawmakers want to see the plan move forward with bi-partisan support because the alternative is not ideal.
If they had to Republicans could pass the plan without the bi-partisan support because they have supermajorities in both chambers, but the optics on that are horrific.
Opponents of the current version of the plan say they would see that as the GOP railroading their plans through and forcing them down voter’s throats.
For the past two days, the current plan has been the subject of public hearings. During those two hearings, the plan received no speakers wishing to testify in support, one speaker testifying as an interested party (taking a neutral stance) and about two dozen speakers testifying in opposition.
State Senator Frank LaRose, a self-proclaimed redistricting nerd, says the plan as it currently is written needs to be amended and says if the GOP tries to force it through without bi-partisan support it will probably fail at the polls.
LaRose has been working on redistricting legislation for seven years, and says it needs to be a bi-partisan.
Sykes says it can get there, and that could even happen in the next few days; or it might take the entire time they have left to negotiate this to a point where both sides of the aisle can support the plan.
There are conflicting reports of how much communication and negotiation is being done on the plan.
That might mean another early morning vote in early February, especially if negotiations stall over the next few weeks.