On Tuesday, January 23, Ohio Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs, Keith Lake, testified in front of the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee as an Interested Party on Senate Joint Resolution 5 (SJR 5). This resolution proposes an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to establish standards and procedures for congressional redistricting.
The Ohio Chamber, as well as voters, have opposed ballot efforts in both 2005 and 2012 to change the way Ohio draws congressional district lines. However, in 2015, the Ohio Chamber supported the constitutional amendment creating a bipartisan, public process for drawing state legislative districts. Our support on this proposal was largely due to the overwhelming bipartisan majority support it received from the General Assembly and how it prevented one political party from controlling the process.
The Ohio Chamber wants to see the congressional redistricting process be revised the same way – beginning with a proposal put on the ballot by the General Assembly after it has garnered support from strong, bipartisan majorities.
The purpose of this testimony on SJR 5 was to urge members of both parties to put aside their partisan differences and forge a bipartisan solution that can be presented to voters in 2018. SJR 5 is a step in the right direction, but not yet that.
The current process of drawing congressional district lines isn’t working for Ohioans and must be reformed. It leads to diminished General Election competition and contributes to intensified partisanship and contentiousness, which can then turn off otherwise qualified potential public servants from pursuing office.
We don’t want to see another unnecessary and expensive General Election fight over a take-it-or-leave-it redistricting proposal developed without input from both parties. We will continue to urge the General Assembly to come together to solve this issue in a truly bipartisan manner.