Updates on AHCA, Redistricting, Lobbying 101

Before we run through a quick recap of our May 9 meeting, let’s step back and reflect on the week that preceded our meeting.  Along with other area Indivisible teams, we participated in a protest at Steve Stivers’ Hilliard office on the day of the AHCA vote (May 4). It was cold. It was raining. But we were determined to make our voices heard. The event was covered by ABC6 and WOSU.

Later that day, the House voted 217-213 to pass the AHCA bill. Despite numerous assurances (in letters and in person) that he would protect those with preexisting conditions and preserve essential health benefits like preventative care, Steve Stivers voted for the AHCA. We will not forget this vote, Representative Stivers!

Unfortunately, redistricting reform hit a speed bump later that same night.  Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected the redistricting reform petition summary language. Back to square one.

There’s no sugar coating it– last Thursday was a really, really tough day. But we rolled up our sleeves over the weekend and got right back in the fight for fairer districts in Ohio. We met with Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio, got petitions with the updated summary language, and got to work!

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Thanks to you, our team was able to get 111 of the required 1,000 signatures needed to get the amended petition back to the Attorney General.  Congratulations to the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition for such a quick turn-around.

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At our May 9 meeting, we gave a quick update on the redistricting reform effort. Almost all of our attendees signed up to help to gather signatures once we have the go-ahead!

IMPORTANT NOTE: For your information, we contacted the Franklin County Board of Elections, and clarified that those of us with Columbus mailing addresses who live in Upper Arlington can put either Columbus or UA in the ‘city’ box on a petition. Although Columbus is technically correct, putting Upper Arlington does not invalidate your signature.

Our guest speaker was Gary Daniels, Chief Lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. He gave us a thorough overview of the Ohio legislative process, and encouraged us to consider testifying in committee to express concerns, suggestions, or support for proposed state legislation. As citizens, our voices can have more weight than the testimony of lobbyists.  To be most effective, Mr. Daniels suggested that we limit testimony to two pages, and to follow the rules of decorum during committee meetings (e.g., addressing questions and responses to the chair of the committee rather than individual members).

In order to have the most influence, he suggested that we focus on building strong relationships with our state legislators. Find out what you might have in common with your legislator (e.g., support for the same sports team, a similar educational background), and use that to lay the foundation for a good working relationship. It can be helpful to contact legislators when they are doing a good job (not just we disagree with them!)

For more about making a difference at the state level, attend Upper Arlington Progressive Action’s meeting on the Ohio Resistance Guide on May 25 at the Upper Arlington Public Library (6:30, Friends Theater).

What’s next for our team? We will be reaching out to you to do training on how to collect redistricting reform petition signatures.  Our next meeting is scheduled for June 13 at 7pm in the Friends Theater at the UAPL (Tremont branch).