Larry Obhof struck the right tone. The Ohio Senate president declared that a plan to revamp congressional redistricting would not get a floor vote unless it had the support of the citizens coalition seeking to put a related issue on the November ballot. He expects that once in agreement, Fair Districts=Fair Elections would give up its campaign, lawmakers sending a measure to the May ballot, the Feb. 7 filing deadline just ahead.

That is essentially how things proceeded in 2015, when a bipartisan plan to repair the redrawing of legislative districts won overwhelming approval from voters. Yet the Republican majorities at the Statehouse have different ideas for U.S. House districts. They want lawmakers to have the first shot at redrawing the lines, rather than give the job to a redistricting commission.

If lawmakers fail, then the commission would take up the task, though events could leave lawmakers with the final word.

If they insist on such a prominent legislative role, the Republican majorities must be prepared to give in other ways. So, it helps, too, to see state Sen. Matt Huffman, the main architect of the Republican plan, say that he won’t press for a floor vote without strong bipartisan support.

What is a fair compromise?

The language regarding the splitting of counties must be improved. The Republican plan protects rural counties from excess. It leaves the most populous counties open to multiple splits. State Sen. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat, and others rightly warn about an invitation to gerrymandering.

Responsible redistricting requires some flexibility in population size. One of the virtues of the commission concept is the requirement for minority support and thus compromise. If the legislature is going to take the lead, that minority support must be substantial enough to achieve the desired outcome. With the Republican plan, that isn’t the case.

The Republican majorities balk at including “representational fairness,” that the redrawing stem, in part, from the preferences voters have expressed going back decades. For instance, Ohio voters have not shown a preference for Republicans making up three-quarters of the U.S. House delegation, yet the current 12-4 divide for Republicans appears locked in place.

Some Republicans see representational fairness as a kind of gerrymandering in reverse. Hardly. It is driven by voters. Republicans have talked about including the idea as an aspiration. Fair Districts=Fair Elections proposes a mandate. Surely, language can be found to have it serve as strong reinforcement for the more competitive districts Ohioans deserve. Again, that is especially so if lawmakers are going to carry the load in redistricting.

The better way relies on a commission, mind you, of politicians. It is simpler and more prone to a productive result. If the Republican majorities disagree, and yet rightly see the need for bipartisanship, they must be prepared to give sufficient ground.