Welcome to the Wednesday, February 2 , Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting roundup—New York and Ohio
- Ohio Secretary of State certifies marijuana legalization initiative to the state legislature
- Texas primary election spotlight
Redistricting roundup—New York and Ohio
We’re back with the latest news out of New York and Ohio on congressional and state legislative redistricting efforts. Let’s dive right in!
On Jan. 30, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment—which Democrats control—released proposed congressional and legislative redistricting plans. According to Marina Villeneuve of NBC 4 New York, the maps would give the [Democratic] party “an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts and mean re-election trouble for several Republican members of the U.S. House.” The Legislature could vote on the maps as early as this week.
Voters in New York approved a state constitutional amendment—Proposal 1—in 2014, creating a redistricting commission for drawing legislative and congressional districts. On Jan. 3, 2022, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission voted 5-5 on two congressional redistricting proposals—one proposed by Democrats on the commission and the other proposed by the commission’s Republicans. The Legislature rejected both maps on Jan. 10. Although the commission had 15 days from that point to go back to the drawing board and produce new maps, it announced on Jan. 24 that it would not submit any new proposals. Since the commission failed to submit a revised map by Jan. 25, the Legislature is allowed to amend or create new redistricting proposals.
After the 2020 census, New York was apportioned 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a loss of one seat as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.
The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on whether to accept the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s revised legislative maps. The commission approved the maps on Jan. 22, but several plaintiffs—including the League of Women Voters and an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee—filed legal objections in court. According to Andrew J. Tobias at Cleveland.com, “the groups said Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to get closer to the 54% number representing the GOP’s share of the recent statewide vote.”
If the court approves the maps, they will take effect for the state’s 2022 legislative elections and last for four years, rather than 10, since the commission’s approval vote was along party lines.
The Ohio legislature approved a bill on Jan. 27 intended to give Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) the authority to make administrative changes to candidate filing procedures such as permitting applicants to change dates or district numbers and give candidates time to comply with residency requirements that result from redistricting. The filing deadline for legislative candidates in Ohio is today.
Ohio Secretary of State certifies marijuana legalization initiative to the state legislature
Speaking of Ohio…
On Jan. 28, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced a marijuana legalization initiative had submitted enough valid signatures to be presented to the state legislature.
The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Adults would be authorized to possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would also be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. Additionally, the initiative would enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and dedicate revenue to fund a cannabis social equity and jobs program.
In Ohio, initiated state statutes are indirect, meaning they must be considered by the state legislature. The legislature has four months to adopt, reject, or take no action on the measure. If no action is taken, sponsors have 90 days following the legislature’s four-month deadline to address the measure to collect 132,887 additional signatures.
Here’s a brief timeline of the initiative’s road to the legislature:
- December 20, 2021: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign behind the initiative, submits an initial round of 206,943 signatures.
- January 3, 2022: Secretary of State Frank LaRose announces that 119,825 signatures were valid–13,062 less than the number required.
- January 13, 2022: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, taking advantage of Ohio’s one-week cure period to collect additional signatures, presents an additional 29,918 signatures.
Tom Haren, a spokesman for the campaign, said, “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio.”
Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and had previously rejected recreational marijuana in 2015 by a margin of 63.65% to 36.35%.
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
Race spotlight: Texas’ 28th Congressional District Democratic primary election
On March 1, Texas will kick off the 2022 primary season. For those keeping track at home, that’s in one month. Over the course of this year, we’ll bring you a look at some of our Republican and Democratic battleground primaries.
The first on the agenda is the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District.
What can you tell me about the district? Texas’ 28th Congressional District is represented by Henry Cuellar (D). Cueller was first elected in 2005. The District includes the southern outskirts of San Antonio and stretches down to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the 2020 census, the District’s population is 781,276
What’s the story? Three candidates are running in the primary—incumbent Henry Cuellar, Tannya Benavides, and Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar and Cisneros squared off in the 2020 primary. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D), along with other members of the U.S. House leadership, backed Cuellar that year, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) endorsed Cisneros. Cuellar defeated Cisneros 51.8% to 48.2%.
As of January 2022, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus endorsed Cuellar. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley, and Justice Democrats endorsed Cisneros. The San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, which endorsed Cuellar in the 2020 primary, endorsed Cisneros in the 2022 primary.
Cuellar’s campaign has highlighted his membership on the House Appropriations Committee and said that he has used that position to bring funding to the district for public education, healthcare services, small businesses, veteran’s programs, and immigration services.
Cisneros is an immigration attorney. Cisneros supports Medicare For All, access to reproductive planning and contraception, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, and the For The People Act as key policy goals.
Benavides is a former educator and community organizer. Benavides’ campaign has focused on an increased minimum wage, accessible healthcare, educational equity, and passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).
As of January 2022, the three race rating outlets—Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections—considered the general election as Solid or Likely Democratic.