Democratic and Republican House leaders have apparently worked out a deal today on a new congressional map and a single 2012 primary on March 6, instead of the current split primary that moves presidential and congressional races to June.
Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said the new map would contain at least two changes to an updated congressional map that Republicans offered about two months ago. He said the changes are “not major.”
“We have to make sure we get the maps circulated. Obviously I want to take all the time necessary to get that done,” he said, as House Republicans moved into a closed-door caucus to discuss the deal. “I want to make sure everyone understands what this one is. Then we’ll do a head count.” Batchelder said he does not know what the tally will be. The bill needs 66 votes in order to take effect immediately and join the primaries into a single date, and also needs a two-thirds vote in the GOP-controlled Senate.
House Democratic sources said they have to votes to pass a “tweak” of the latest map publicly proposed by Republicans, known as House Bill 369, that did more to bring together urban areas in Columbus, Toledo and Dayton. The deal reportedly also will include a study commission that will examine a new process for drawing maps in the future. Batchelder suggested that at least one of the changes will occur in the Columbus area.
House Bill 369 has been set for a possible vote in the House Rules and Reference Committee, which is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. but is likely to start much later. If the bill moves out of committee, a House vote is likely to occur quickly, moving it to the Senate for similar rapid action.
The deal would put an end to weeks of previously unsuccessful map negotiations that began when Democrats started the process to collect the 231,000 signatures needed to challenge the original GOP-drawn map on the November 2012 ballot. Democrats argued that the map, passed in September, was unfairly gerrymandered to give Republicans a solid chance to win 12 of the 16 districts.