Feb 7, 2018

Ohio lawmakers approve gerrymandering reform ballot proposal

Credit - Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bipartisan plan to curtail gerrymandering by changing how congressional district lines are drawn.

Why it matters: The proposed constitutional amendment will be placed before voters in May as a ballot initiative. If passed, it would change the current law that gives the state's Republican-controlled legislature the authority to draw and approve legislative maps. It would go into effect for the next redistricting process in 2021.

  • When the legislature draws new maps to align with updated U.S. Census figures, it would need three-fifths support from each chamber and at least one third from the minority party.
  • If lawmakers fail to approve the plan, the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission would take over the process and create either a 10-year map with minority consent or a four-year map without.

What they're saying: Gov. John Kasich (R), who has been calling for reform, lauded the bipartisan compromise, as well as Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D), who represents Ohio's most infamously gerrymandered district, referred to as the "snake by the lake."

The backdrop: This comes as some lawmakers in other parts of the country are locked in major racially and politicly-charged gerrymandering court battles. The U.S. Supreme Court is also currently deciding whether Wisconsin Republicans created unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative districts to benefit their candidates. A decision is expected by June.

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Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

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Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.