Reporters Roundtable: Judges give Ohio Redistricting Commission final deadline to work out maps mess

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A federal three-judge panel says it will not intervene in Ohio’s redistricting process---for now.   The panel ruled in a 2-1 vote Wednesday to give the redistricting commission until May 28 to pass a set of maps for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts that pass constitutional scrutiny.  If by that date, the maps issue remains unresolved the panel says it will impose an earlier set of maps to be used and set the second primary for those Ohio House and Senate races for August 2.

The maps the panel would impose would be the third set of maps---invalidated by the Ohio Supreme Court in March.

Currently the Ohio Supreme Court has ordered the Republican-dominated redistricting commission to go back to work and produce a FIFTH set of maps by May 6.

To mask or not to mask.  That is the question facing travelers.  With a hectic travel season expected this summer—as people try to make up for lost time—a federal judge in Florida this week struck down the mask mandate that remained in effect for transportation.  The mandate impacted airlines, trains, buses and other forms of public transportation.

Airlines, airports, including Hopkins, and transit systems including the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, the Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority, and Laketran all dropped their mask requirements as a result of the judge’s ruling.

The requirement had been extended until May 3.  The Biden Administration says it will appeal the ruling if the Centers for Disease Control deemed the mandate was necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cases of COVID-19, driven by the BA.2 variant of omicron, are starting to inch back up.  But hospitalizations are not.

A boost in support for the effort to try and legalize recreational marijuana use in Ohio for those 21 and older and regulate it like alcohol.

Two Democrats in the Ohio House, Casey Weinstein of Hudson and Terrence Upchurch of Cleveland, have introduced a bill to advance the initiated statute to legalize recreational marijuana.  Lawmakers have until May 28 to do so. If they don’t, supporters of the measure can try to collect enough signatures to put it on the November ballot and let voters decide.

Two new non-profit newsrooms named their editors in chief this week.

The Ohio Local News Initiative named Lila Mills to run its newsroom that will focus on community issues and utilize local residents as reporters.  It has the backing of the Cleveland Foundation. Mills helped build the Cleveland Documenters.

The Marshall Project named veteran journalist Jim Crutchfield to run its operation that will focus on criminal justice issues.  The project is supported by the Gund Foundation.

Guests: 

Lisa Ryan, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
Shana Black, Founder and Publisher, Black Girl Media
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV

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