The impossible is now possible. A week after saying there was no way they could draw another set of state legislative district maps, the Ohio Redistricting Commission met yesterday and approved new maps. The threat of a Supreme Court hearing where contempt charges were possible may have helped motivate them. The maps were approved by four Republicans and no Democrats. Republican State Auditor Keith Faber voted no along with the commission's two Democrats.
Republicans who favored the maps say they meet the constitutional requirements set by voters and would give Republicans a 54 to 45 advantage in the Ohio House and an 18 to 15 advantage in the Ohio Senate. But Democrats say many of the districts considered to their advantage are very close, where the Republian leaning ones lean much more heavily Republican.
Before actually trying to make another set of maps, members filed answers to the Supreme Court ahead of next week's hearings about why they should not be held in contempt. Their arguments ran the gamut. Democrats apologized. Governor Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Faber claimed they didn't have mapmaking software. And Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman claimed they didn't have enough time.
Even if the Supreme Court accepts these maps, it appears we've past the point of no return for a unified May 3rd primary.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is eliciting reactions from Ohio congressional delegation. Russia moved on Ukraine yesterday from three directions and launched missile strikes at the capital city of Kyiv. President Joe Biden in response issued a new round of sanctions aimed at economically crippling Russia and its military. Those sanctions include targeting four of Russia's largest banks. Biden promised more actions were to come.
The Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board or ADAMHS Board for short reversed course this week and reinstated the word racism in its organizational declaration of racism is a public health crisis. Last fall the board replaced the word "racism" with "discrimination" saying the word racism was divisive.
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb presented his first budget plan to council this week---a $1.8 billion proposal. Bibb called it a "transition budget" and one that will not solve all the city's problems at once but will build a foundation for the future.
Next month marks the two-year mark of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic over the coronavirus. It has been an exhausting two years of restrictions and mandates. With cases dropping as the omicron surge ebbs, many want to ditch masks and resume more normalcy. But, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Doctor Bruce Vanderhoff, says people should consider a few things before going mask-free: the transmission level of the virus in their area and what elevated risks their loved ones may face if infected with COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control says Cuyahoga County has a "substantial" rate of spread. But seven counties - all in Northeast Ohio - have fallen to moderate transmission rates: Geauga, Holmes, Lake, Ottawa, Sandusky, Stark and Summit.
Statewide the rate of transmission is now at 160-cases per 100,000 people.
Nick Castele, Senior Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
Gabriel Kramer, Multiple Media Producer, Ideastream Public Media
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV