Redistricting news has been developing quickly in the last few weeks, beginning with the revelation that
the legislature was looking to place a redistricting measure on the primary election ballot
in May. Since the first of the year,
Senator Matt Huffman introduced a "reform" proposal
that could actually make gerrymandering worse and write "packing and cracking" tactics into the constitution. However, thanks to pressure through testimony in committee and calls to legislators' offices from redistricting activists, Senator Huffman and majority leadership have been negotiating with the Fair Districts coalition and stated they do not intend to pass a reform proposal without our support as well as that of the minority party.
On January 29, Senator Huffman
announced amendments to his proposal
, but the changes still fall short of ending partisan gerrymandering, so the coalition still cannot support it as it stands. The deadline for the legislature to place this issue on the May ballot is 11:59 pm next Wednesday, February 7, so there is little time to lose. Make sure
know what you want them to do if a plan comes up for a vote.
LWVO and the Fair Districts coalition are committed to meaningful redistricting reform, and will not abandon our petition effort until reform is a reality. At last count in December, we had a total of over 193,000 signatures, but we will release another update as soon as possible which will show us even closer to qualifying for the ballot.
2. State Legislature Update
While the Ohio General Assembly taking on redistricting has been of great interest and monopolized our attention, the legislature has been working on a number of issues in the few weeks since they have been back.
It is worth remembering that, as May's primary election approaches, some members of the majority party may want to bolster their ideological
bona fides with their base by being on record voting for very conservative legislation.
- Senate Bill 28, which would require fetal remains resulting from abortions be buried or cremated, passed the Senate and is now having hearings in the House. This requirement, which would not apply to human tissue discarded during any other procedures, would result in enormous costs for abortion providers, infringing access to abortion by making the procedure more expensive.
- The so-called "Heartbeat Bill," which would ban all abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable around six weeks into a pregnancy, passed out of committee in the House in December. This puts the clearly-unconstitutional House Bill 258 in position to be brought up for a vote by the full chamber any time. A similar measure earned a veto from Governor Kasich in 2016.
Energy and the environment
- Attempts to curtail Ohio's renewable energy standards are back in the form of House Bill 114. Currently in committee in the Senate, it is not expected to advance in its current form, but rather be significantly amended, possibly including changes to Ohio's wind turbine setback requirements. Senate President Obhof signaled this issue is a priority to resolve swiftly.
- House Bill 393, to allow the sale of fracking waste as a commercial product for use in ice and dust control, has received four hearings in House committee. This is troubling, as the makeup of this so-called "brine" is kept secret but has been shown to contain carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals.
- Senate Bill 180 and House Bill 228, so-called "Stand-Your-Ground" proposals that broaden the circumstances in which a person is legally permitted to use deadly force in public places, have each seen multiple hearings in their respective committees.
3. Save the Date: LWVO Statehouse Day is Wednesday, April 11
Please join us at LWVO's annual Statehouse Day, which will take place in Columbus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11. The theme of this year's event is "Putting the Voters First."
We are thrilled to announce that our Luncheon Keynote speaker is Michael F. Curtin, who is a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives where he served the 17th district in Columbus for four years. He is retired from The Dispatch Printing Company after a 38-year career as a reporter, public affairs editor, managing editor, associate publisher, chief operation officer, vice chairman, and consultant.
Online registration will open and more details will be publicized soon, but for now, save the date!
4. Take Action on Climate Change Locally
Many local governments have reacted to the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement by pledging to abide with the Agreement. Local governments in Ohio need to be particularly concerned because the state is likely to dismantle our commitment to clean energy.
Local action is being organized by two groups:
- Climate Mayors http://climatemayors.org/ According to their web page there are "384 Climate Mayors, representing 68 million Americans, committ[ed] to uphold the Paris goals". In addition to Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, six other cities have signed up (Amesville, Athens, Bexley, Gambier, Lakewood, and Toledo).
- Covenant of Mayors https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org/ This international organization "establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities' collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts. Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are members, as is Cuyahoga County.
In addition, Citizens Climate Lobby https://citizensclimatelobby.org/ is a grassroots organization dedicated to creating the political will for climate solutions, by empowering individuals for advocacy. It is an excellent source of information on the carbon fee and dividend proposal supported by the Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.
There are two ways that local Leagues and members can play a role in these efforts:
- Request that your city join one or both groups.
- Originate or participate in activities under the group(s) umbrella.
5. Fundraising Tip of the Month
February 14th is the day of the year designated to tell special people in our lives how much you love and appreciate them. And who do we love and appreciate more than our volunteers and donors? Take a moment this month to share the Valentine's Day love with your donors!
Remember the Valentine's cards you made using red and pink construction paper, or the box of 25 small cards with envelopes you distributed to your classmates? Why not send a little vintage Valentine to your donors to share your appreciation and love? Or send a special Valentine's Day message to your donors via social media! We can never thank our donors enough, so take the opportunity to show them your love this Valentine's Day so they will show you their love in the weeks and months ahead.
For any questions or support, please contact LWVO Development Director Sherry
Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Inspire! Campaign - Opportunity to Learn More
In 2016, the League of Women Voters Ohio introduced a five year, $2 million dollar Inspire! Leadership Fund Campaign. During that first year, we held two initial Inspire! gatherings, raising almost $300,000 in pledged giving. What an amazing beginning, and we haven't even begun the "hard launch" of the campaign.
To further our development efforts, LWVO hired Sherry Rose in July 2017 as our Inspire! Campaign/Development Director. In this initial phase of the Inspire! campaign, we are reaching out to local Leagues to answer your questions and get your ideas, feedback, and suggestions.
As an introduction of Sherry and the campaign, we are asking each local League president (or a representative they designate) to participate in one of the following conference calls. We are offering three different days and times in hopes of capturing 100% participation.
- Wednesday, February 7 @ noon
- Thursday, February 8th @ 7:00 PM
- Friday, February 9th @ 8:00 AM
7. Update from LWVUS - Countdown to Convention 2018:
6 months to go
We hope to see you next June in Chicago for Convention 2018! To help you plan we've continued to update our website with helpful information and links. Recent updates include
For more key dates between now and next June, see the
full Countdown article
, and be sure to read future League Updates for emerging Convention news.
8. All-Member Conference Call for February
Please join us for our February all-member conference call on Tuesday, February 6, 12-1 pm.
Topic: Redistricting and Fair Districts Update
Redistricting news has been shifting almost daily, so we'll offer an update on the latest and take your questions.
CALL-IN NUMBER: 866-740-1260
The recording of the all-member call will be available in the
LWVO online member area
following the call until the end of the month. Please note that the call recording is intended for LWV members and guests (just like the calls) and, therefore, should not be shared with anyone outside the League family. Thank you.
9. 2018 Primary Voter Guide
The LWVO state board voted to approve the questions for the primary election voter guide, so look for more information about candidate outreach very soon.