The RP’s Weekly Web Gems– The Politics of the States

US House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been implicated in a far-reaching report about Ohio Republicans' redistricting practices.

Something is afoot in Ohio, and a report last Monday showed as much. According to a document compiled and released by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, which includes the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Ohio Citizen Action amongst other groups, redistricting conspiracies may have actually occurred in that state involving Speaker of the United States House of Representative John Boehner. The report, which uses public records for many of its sources, says that Boehner was working behind the scenes to help guide a redistricting effort that heavily favored Republicans, and that two Republican legislative staffers were paid some $210,000 for three months of work. Moreover, the group alleges that $10,000 in taxpayer money was used to pay for a hotel room in which to do redistricting work in secret. Ohio Democrats are calling for a large-scale investigation. [Columbus Dispatch]

The saga continues in Wisconsin, as Scott Walker’s campaign and the state Republican Party are suing the non-partisan Government Accountability Board, the state’s election watchdog. The Board was created in 2007 to replace an overtly partisan elections board whose members were appointed one apiece by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly, the Senate majority leader, the Assembly minority leader, the Senate minority leader, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the state chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, with the occasional addition of a third party. The change was made in response to allegations that the elections board was giving unfair advantage to then-incumbent Democratic governor Jim Doyle in his reelection effort. The great irony of all this? Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, a Republican, voted in favor of the GAB’s creation in 2007, and is now working to dismantle it in favor of the old system. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Not all hyper-partisanship leads to a totally broken system. In Illinois, legislators have spent the past year learning to work together, and though the state has some major budgetary hurdles left to jump, both Republicans and Democrats are willing to admit that progress has been made. Amongst other achievements, Illinois tightened Medicaid eligibility to ensure its further survival, abolished the death penalty, enacted education reform, and legalized same-sex civil unions, all with bipartisan support. Perhaps most importantly, the state’s budget was written in a much more public manner, while Republicans softened their rhetoric on House Speaker Mike Madigan when it came time to work with him on these issues. [Springfield State Journal-Register]

New York’s own unique redistricting issues continue, as Upstate Republicans file suit in the state Supreme Court over a 2010 law that mandates prisoners be counted in their last known address. In the past, prisoners have been counted as living in their jail cells, and most of New York’s are in sparsely-populated Upstate congressional districts, while most prisoners are coming from New York City and other points downstate. The official reasoning behind the Republicans’ complaint is that prisoners who do not provide a valid non-prison address would not be counted at all, thus leading to inaccurate apportionment of districts. [Albany Times Union]

They haven’t had a pay raise in over five years, but Florida’s state legislators have found another way to reward themselves for a hard session’s work by taking off December 23. Ostensibly a way of cutting back on state expenses, Governor Rick Scott has given legislators this break partially in recognition of the lack of cost-of-living salary increases. [Miami Herald]

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