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January 31, 2022

Ohio Legislative Update

Last Updated: January 31, 2022

Ohio

The legislature has slowly started committee meetings during the 2022 session. Right now everyone is focused on redistricting and the $20 billion Intel deal that could make central Ohio the epicenter for chip manufacturing for the world. See details below.

Jobs

Ohio offered Intel Corp. incentives worth roughly $2 billion to secure a new $20 billion chipmaking factory. The combination of tax breaks and incentives are likely the largest ever offered by Ohio for what state leaders say is the biggest economic development deal in its history. The complex could grow much larger and more quickly if Congress approves a $52 billion bill that would invest in the chip sector and help ensure more production in the U.S., according to Intel executives. Construction is expected to begin this year, with production coming online at the end of 2025. Ohio's offer includes $600 million to help Intel offset the cost of building the factories, which is more expensive than it would be in Asia. The state also will pay nearly $700 million for roadwork and water infrastructure upgrades, including a system that will allow the plant to reuse wastewater.

Redistricting

On January 12th, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the new General Assembly maps that define districts for the 2022 elections, which were adopted along party-lines by the Ohio Redistricting Commission and gave the commission 10 days to create a new plan. Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor joined the Democrat judges in a 4-3 decision in declaring the new Ohio House and Senate maps invalid, violating the state Constitution that requires the commission to attempt to draw maps that correspond with the voting preferences of Ohio voters over the last 10 years.

All sides agree that over the last 10 years Democrats have captured about 46% of the vote in statewide races, and Republicans have received about 54% of the vote. The commission, however, adopted a statement in support of the adopted plans that noted that Republicans had won about 81% of the statewide races, and said voter preferences could be construed to support Republicans by a margin of anywhere between 54 and 81%. The Redistricting Commission adopted new maps, again voted on party-lines, within the deadline. The plaintiffs in all three prior lawsuits filed objections with the Ohio Supreme Court on the new maps, arguing that the revised plan continues to violate Article XI of the Ohio Constitution because revised maps were drawn to primarily favor the Republican Party.

Days after the first set of Ohio General Assembly maps were struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court the Ohio Congressional maps received the same ruling. In a 4-3 decision, the Court majority ruled that the legislature violated two provisions of the Ohio Constitution by adopting a congressional-district plan that “unduly favors” the Republican Party and “unduly splits” governmental units into different congressional districts that would favor the Republican Party. The Court gave the Redistricting Commission 30 days to draw new maps.

Ohio House Changes

Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) announced she was stepping down as Leader at the end of 2021. In early January, the House Democrats elected Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) as their new leader. The House Democrats new leadership team also includes: Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) as Assistant Minority Leader, Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) as Minority Whip, and Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) as Assistant Minority Whip.

Assistant Majority Floor Leader Rick Carfagna (R-Westerville) announced he will resign his House seat for a senior position with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. He currently represents the 68th House District, which includes the eastern half of Delaware County and all of Knox County. Carfagna’s accomplishments during his time in the House include the passage of HB2 (Carfagna-Stewart), which created the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, a $270M program which increases access to high-speed Internet by helping finance broadband expansion projects across the state.

Elections

Following her resignation as Minority Leader, Rep. Emilia Sykes announced she’s running for Congress in Ohio’s newly reconfigured 13th congressional district. While its boundaries are uncertain after Ohio’s Supreme Court rejection of the new maps, Sykes says she plans to run no matter where the district falls.

In statewide election news, the two hopeful Democratic gubernatorial candidates announced their picks for lieutenant governor. Front runner, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, chose Cuyahoga County Councilwoman and former mayor of Cleveland Heights, Cheryl Stephens. Former Cincinnati mayor John Cranley chose Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor of Toledo. Additionally, Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) announced his plans to run for Attorney General challenging Dave Yost. Taylor Sappington has announced his plans to challenge Keith Faber as the Democrat for the position of Ohio Auditor. Sappington is currently the auditor for the city of Nelsonville in Athens County and lost to state Rep. Jay Edwards in 2018 by about 15 percentage points.

Jim Obergefell, namesake of the litigation that struck down Ohio’s and other states’ same-sex marriage bans, announced his plans to run as a Democratic candidate for the House district including his hometown of Sandusky. Sandusky is now in the 89th House District, covering Erie and Ottawa counties. Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) is the incumbent. Republicans have held the district since defeating former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern in 2014. Obergefell said the physical and political geography will not affect his decision.