Policy

Controversial topics on Ohio legislators’ docket during lame duck session

The Ohio House of Representatives chamber. The state legislature looks to debate bills on several controversial topics during its lame-duck session. Photo by Joshua Rothaas
Written by Delaney Murray

Ohio lawmakers are now in the midst of the final few weeks of the two-year legislative period, with the final session currently scheduled for Dec. 8, although more days could be added if necessary. During this legislative lame duck period — the time between the election and the official transfer of power — some legislators hope to push forward multiple long-dormant bills on a variety of controversial issues. Here are some of the issues at play.

The issue: abortion

The bills: Senate Bill 127, House Bill 69, House Bill 135, House Bill 417, House Bill 419, Senate Bill 254

Background: Several bills are being discussed that would affect abortion rights in Ohio, most of which would limit current rights. The Ohio Senate has already passed SB 127, which would change the latest time to get an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, while HB 69 prevents abortions after there is a detectable heartbeat. The Ohio House is also considering HB 135, which would prevent an abortion based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis. A few bills would also require burial of fetal remains (HB 417 and 419 and SB 254).

Main sponsors:

Senate Bill 127

Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-District 6) and Jay Hottinger (R-District 31)

House Bill 69

Reps. Christina Hagan (R-District 50) and Ron Hood (R-District 78)

House Bill 417

Reps. Robert McColley (R-District 81) and Kyle Koehler (R-District 79)

House Bill 419

Reps. Barbara Sears (R-District 47) and Timothy E. Ginter (R-District 5)

Senate Bill 254

Sen. Joe Uecker (R-District 14)

Bill 127 Introduced to the Senate: 3/16/15

Bill 127 Passed in the Senate: 6/24/15

Bill 127 Introduced to the House: 6/25/15

Bill 69 Introduced to the House: 2/7/15

Bill 69 Passed by the House: 3/25/15

Bill 69 Introduced to the Senate: 3/26/15

Bill 417 Introduced to the House: 12/17/15

Bill 419 Introduced to the House: 12/23/15

Bill 254 Introduced to the Senate: 12/14/15

Bill 254 Passed by the Senate: 5/25/16

Bill 254 Introduced to the House: 5/31/16

 

The issue: puppies

The bill: Senate Bill 331

Background: Senate Bill 331 would create an official system to license pet breeders in Ohio, and it would fine breeders who run large-scale dog breeding operations, better known as “puppy mills.” However, many animal rights activists have protested the bill because if passed, local cities would no longer have the right to regulate where pet stores get their animals.

Main sponsor: Sen. Bob Peterson (R, District 17)

Introduced to the Senate: 5/17/16

Introduced to the House: 5/31/16

The Issue: schools

The bill: Senate Bill 3

Background: Senate Bill 3 would designate less time in Ohio schools to state testing, work toward more effective forms of student correction aside from suspension and expulsion, change teacher evaluations and relax teacher qualifications for high-performing school districts.

Main sponsors: Sens. Keith Faber (R-District 12) and Cliff Hite (R-District 1)

Introduced to the Senate: 2/2/15

Passed in the Senate: 3/25/15

Introduced to the House: 3/26/15

 

Issue: honor for Moses “Fleetwood” Walker

The bill: House Bill 87

Background: House Bill 87 would make Oct. 7 an official Ohio holiday to honor Moses “Fleetwood” Walker, the first black baseball player to be contracted to the major leagues. Walker was born in Mount Pleasant and spent the latter part of his life in Cleveland.

Main sponsor: Rep. Stephen Slesnick (D-District 49)

Introduced to the House: 2/25/15

Passed in the House: 2/17/16

Introduced to the Senate: 2/18/16

The issue: lawmaker pay

The bill: Senate Joint Resolution 1

Background: Senate Joint Resolution 1 would create a new commission that would be tasked with approving pay rates for lawmakers, judges and public officials. The commission would decide possible raises, removing the responsibility from the lawmakers themselves. If passed, voters would have to vote to officially enact the commission.

Main sponsor: Sen. Keith Faber (R-District 12)

Last offered by the Senate: 6/17/15

 

The issue: civil asset rights

The bill: House Bill 347

Background: House Bill 347 maintains that the state government could not take citizen assets during an arrest without direct criminal conviction, unless it could prove that assets taken were part of the supposed crime.

Main sponsors: Reps. Robert McColley (R-District 81) and Thomas E. Brinkman Jr. (R-District 27)

Introduced to the House: 9/29/15

Passed by the House: 5/25/16

Introduced to the Senate: 6/1/16

 

The issue: unemployment

The bill: House Bill 394

Background: Ohio took out loans from the federal government during the recession in order to pay unemployment compensation, causing businesses to pay over $1.5 billion in taxes between 2012 and 2015 toward federal loans. The state only paid the money back in August of this year. Now, Ohio may be overhauling its unemployment benefits system in order to prevent this from happening again. HB 394 would increase how much employers have to pay in benefits, while cutting an estimated $475 million from the benefits employees would receive. The bill would also reduce the number of weeks benefits would cover, from 26 weeks a year to 12-20.

Main sponsor: Rep. Barbara R. Sears (R-District 47)

Introduced to the House: 11/9/15

 

The issue: renewable energy

The bills: Senate Bill 320, House Bill 554

Background: In 2008, Ohio passed a series of renewable energy laws that required electrical utilities to have renewable sources make up at least 25 percent of their energy source by 2025. Two years ago, a freeze was placed on Ohio’s requirements. The freeze will end at the end of the year, but many want to extend it, possibly indefinitely. Gov. John Kasich is currently threatening to veto any legislation that would eliminate the requirements even for a short amount of time, as these bills are pushing to do.

Main sponsors: Sen. Bill Seitz (R, District 8), Rep. Ron Amstutz (R, District 1)

Bill 320 Introduced to the Senate: 4/25/16

Bill 554 Introduced to the House: 5/9/16

 

The issue: guns

The bills: House Bill 48, House Bill 147

Summary: Multiple bills are up for discussion that would loosen regulations on concealed carry. The bills proposed involve loosening where carriers can bring their weapons, including on school grounds, day care centers, airports, police stations and in some circumstances, government buildings.  They would also allow military members to carry without a permit. HB 48 was heard on Wednesday, shortly after the attack on Ohio State University’s campus, sparking controversy over whether concealed carry should be allowed.

Main sponsors: Reps. Ron Maag (R, District 62) and Ron Hood (R, District 78)

Bill 48 Introduced to the House: 2/10/15

Bill 48 Passed by the House: 11/17/15

Bill 48 Introduced to the Senate: 11/18/15

Bill 147 Introduced to the House: 4/7/15

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Delaney Murray

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