Senate President: Census Data Ruling May Not Help Ohio With Map-Drawing Deadline

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — A federal appeals court has sided with Ohio’s attorney general in his lawsuit to get US Census data earlier than expected to draw maps for Ohio’s Congressional and state House and Senate districts. But the leader of the Ohio Senate says at this point, he’s not sure it will make a difference in drawing one set of new maps.

The US Census said data to build the new maps won’t be available till mid-August. Attorney General Dave Yost had sued to force the data to be released sooner.

Yost lost the first round and appealed. The appeals court’s ruled in his favor, saying the mapable data should be delivered by August 16 or sooner.

But Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the lawsuit doesn’t really do anything to manage Ohio’s situation.

“I’m not sure that it does anything to help us solve our problem. If it does, that’s great. I don’t know how,” Huffman said. “We’re still kind of in the shape where we have a constitutional deadline of August 15.”

Voters approved two on Congressional and state House and Senate districts that require maps to be finalized in September and more minority party buy-in. The amendments also mandate at least two public hearings for the Congressional map and at least three for the House and Senate maps.

Huffman has said he thinks the maps for the state House and Senate likely won’t get agreement from minority Democrats, so they’ll likely be short-term four-year maps. But he thinks the longer timeline to draw the Congressional map, with one less district, will result in an agreement on a ten-year map.

Huffman had proposed a constitutional amendment to move those map-drawing deadlines, but dropped the plan after Democrats pushed back, saying they preferred to go through the Ohio Supreme Court.