Legislative Landscape

OFFICIALS IN Columbus recently held their first meeting to focus on the redrawing of state and congressional districts. The redistricting occurs once every 10 years, creating new jurisdictions for state and federal representatives in Ohio.

Also occurring once every 10 years is the federal census, which recently revealed slower growth by the state of Ohio compared to other states in the nation. This will affect the redistricting, as the state will be losing two Congressional seats. This has happened in the past. In fact, Ohio previously lost two U.S. districts in 1990 and another in 2001.

The last time these lines were redrawn, the area districts were somewhat fractured. Congressional districts saw the 18th district move west, keeping Harrison County and only two townships in Belmont County. The 6th Congressional District moved up the river from the south, making it a long stretch of riverside territory.

State districts will also be redrawn in the coming months. A state apportionment board will be meeting again over the next few months to hammer out the new district lines. Hopefully partisan politics will not play into this decision, which will define the jurisdictions of our governmental representatives for the next 10 years.

Last week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted unveiled a new Web site sponsored by his office, along with the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting and the Ohio Apportionment Board. The site – ReshapeOhio.org – is designed to give Ohioans an opportunity to engage in the effort to redraw state and congressional district boundaries.

New technology will not only give Ohio residents, taxpayers and voters an opportunity to follow the process of redistricting, but also give them a format to become involved and provide input on this important measure.

Maptitude – a Web-based map-drawing program – along with detailed 2010 Census data, will be available on the ReshapeOhio.org Web site soon. This will allow visitors to draw their own maps in their own homes and “take some of the mystery out of the process,” according to Husted.

We encouraged everyone to become involved and do everything they can to understand this process as it unfolds. The redistricting will affect all Ohioans soon and will reshape Ohio’s legislative landscape for the next decade.