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With Ohio's legislative primary set, lawmakers working on how to pay for it

Jo Ingles

A federal court ruling on Friday sets up an August 2 primary for Ohio House and Senate districts, using maps that were ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered in March. Now lawmakers are deciding how to pay the estimated $20 million cost of that vote.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the $20 million for the primary won’t be coming from federal COVID dollars, as he had suggested a few weeks ago.

“No, I don't think so. Part of the problem with all of the federal funds are not just that they're restricted, but understanding what the restrictions are. And sometimes you can't get guidance from the government," Huffman said. "So these are going to be GRF [general revenue fund] funds."

Huffman had said he thought COVID dollars could be used because census data to draw the maps was delayed because of the pandemic.

The first maps were approved by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in September. Those and four subsequent Republican-approved maps were all ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Huffman said a bill that will include the funding for the primary should pass the Senate this week.

A directive from Secretary of State Frank LaRose, one of the four Republicans who have voted for all the unconstitutional maps, went out to boards of elections on Saturday. It says they must program their voter registration and central tabulation systems with the court-ordered maps data by June 7.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.