Ohio finalized the language voters will see this November when they vote on the abortion access amendment, the redistricting commission introduced an initial set of statehouse maps, and no decision was reached on nominations to lease the mineral rights under state parks for drilling.
We break down what it all means in this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained. A podcast from the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau to catch you up on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less.
This week, host Anna Staver was joined by reporter Jessie Balmert.
New year, new maps
Republicans unveiled new maps for Ohio’s state House and Senate districts on Wednesday and then swiftly adopted them as the starting point for negotiations over Democratic objections.
The proposed maps would give Republicans a 23-10 advantage in the Senate and a 62-37 edge in the House.
Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, said these boundaries would keep communities together and, in his opinion, pass constitutional muster. The Ohio State Supreme Court rejected multiple sets of previous maps.
Democrats disagreed, saying those numbers didn’t match the constitutional requirement to try to reflect statewide voting preferences.
“Let’s be clear, this does not by any stretch of the imagination meet the proportionality requirement,” House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, said.
Ballot language for the abortion amendment
Ohio has finally set the official language that voters will read before deciding whether to amend the constitution to protect access to abortion this fall.
Supporters of the reproductive rights amendment went to court after the Republican-controlled ballot board drafted language that they said would bias voters against the amendment.
But this week, the court decided to let most of the ballot board’s language stand, including using the phrase “unborn child” instead of “fetus.”
This decision did not alter the language that would go into the state’s constitution.
Fracking under state parks
Ohioans concerned about leasing the mineral rights underneath our state parks will have to wait another month to hear whether the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission will approve drilling under state parks.
The commission, which met on Monday, approved four parcels of public land for bidding by oil and gas companies, but those properties are right-of-ways and highways owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The bigger, more controversial question, of whether to put parks like Salt Fork and Wolf Run state parks, up for bids was postponed after members of the commission couldn’t agree on terms for the leases.
Education time out
Ohio will have to press pause on its plan to transfer control over public education to the governor’s office thanks to a ruling from a Franklin County Court judge on Thursday.
Judge Karen Held Phipps temporarily blocked the Ohio Department of Education from moving forward with its plans to rename itself as the Department of Workforce and Education, appoint a director who would serve in Gov. Mike DeWine’s cabinet, and transfer powers over education policy from the State Board of Education to that new director.
Her decision came two days after seven members of the State Board of Education sued to stop the transition from happening. The board members argued that transferring powers from their partially elected board to a cabinet appointee was unconstitutional.
Listen to “Ohio Politics Explained” on Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts and TuneIn Radio. The episode is also available by clicking the link in this article.
The USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau serves The Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
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