Voting, Districts, and Infrastructure
The coming week will be packed with drama at both the federal and state level as Ohio’s legislature tackles Congressional redistricting, Senators Klobuchar and Manchin try to win Republican support for their voting rights bill scaled back from the For the People Act, and Democrats strive to carry two infrastructure bills across the finish line as soon as next week.
Meanwhile, Ohio legislators are fighting over proposals to ban teaching about racism and other “divisive concepts,”(HB 322 and HB 327, to prevent mask and vaccine mandates, to repeal the coal subsidies imposed on ratepayers in HB 6 (SB 117). Of huge importance to many faith-based voters: a proponent hearing this Thursday on HB 183 to abolish the death penalty.
Here are some resources for following this tornado of news. Please let both your federal and state senators and representatives hear from you!
Ohio’s Redistricting Commission failed last week to reach bipartisan support for state legislative districts. The five Republicans voted to approve maps that analysts predict will create a Republican supermajority able to overcome the Governor’s veto – as we’ve already seen on public health orders during the pandemic. These maps will almost certainly trigger lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.
Ohio Council of Churches public policy director, The Rev. Brandi Slaughter, addressing a huge turnout of advocates from across Ohio at Trinity Capitol Square st the start of Fair Maps Day
“power to the people: Fair Maps!
Meanwhile, the state legislature is supposed to adopt new maps for Ohio’s congressional districts – also with bipartisan support – by Sept. 30. If they fail, the work reverts to the same Redistricting Commission that adopted a partisan map last week.
This drama is only one of fifty where majority parties are resorting once again to partisan gerrymandering wherever they can get away with it.
Many people of faith converged in Columbus Sept. 21 for Fair Districts Day to implore the Legislature to follow the spirit of the reforms passed overwhelmingly by Ohio voters to end partisan gerrymandering. We began the day at Trinity, Capitol Square.
A diocesan Becoming Beloved Community team at Fair Maps Day: Ariel Miller, Lissa Barker, and the Rev. Michelle Dayton.
With Senate Republicans filibustering the For the People Act, seven Democrats co-sponsored S 2747, the Freedom to Vote Act, as a nationwide ban on partisan gerrymandering. The bill would create national protections and processes guaranteeing safe, convenient, and secure voter registration and voting. Sen. Manchin is trying to persuade ten Republican Senators to vote for it. If he fails – as most people expect – the next question is whether President Biden and the Democratic leadership will agree to end the filibuster that allows a minority of the Senate to block any major new policy.
Here’s a Sept. 14 overview of the $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill which Democrats are striving to pass by budget reconciliation, thus avoiding defeat by the Republican minority. This represents their hopes on a huge range of social investments from preschool and child care to policies tackling climate change. Democrats hoped to include immigration reform, but the Senate Parliamentarian ruled Sunday, Sept. 19 that that policy change was not justifiable under the rules of budget reconciliation.
HB 183 to abolish Ohio’s Death Penalty will have a proponent hearing Thursday, Sept. 23 in the House Criminal Justice Committee. Read about it here. Written testimony and a completed witness form need to be submitted by 10 am Wednesday. The committee chair is Rep. Jeff LaRe. You can submit testimony and your witness form via email@example.com. A fillable Witness form is attached here.
Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.