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Republicans move to limit Kasich’s power

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Last month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich shocked fellow Republicans across the state when he expanded Medicaid through the Controlling Board. That shock quickly wore off, and in its place is a party furious with the governor’s actions, enough so to try and prevent this from happening again.

State Sens. Christina Hagan of Alliance and Ron Young of Leroy, both Republicans, are sponsoring a bill to limit the power of the Controlling Board.

“The people of Ohio are represented by the General Assembly, and decisions should be reflective of this legislative body,” Hagan said in an interview.

The bill seeks to reduce the power of the Controlling Board by placing limits on its spending authority. The Board will be able to authorize no more than 3.5 percent of what has been appropriated by the General Assembly, and for unanticipated funds, that number shrinks to one percent. The Controlling Board may only surpass these caps in emergency situations, and the vote by the board must be unanimous (the Medicaid expansion passed on a 5-2 vote).

“Major spending decisions should be decided by the General Assembly, not an obscure administrative board,” Young said in an interview.

The Hagan–Young bill was not the only response to Kasich’s actions. As soon as the Controlling Board approved the Medicaid expansion, lawsuits were being written up. So far, six Republican lawmakers and two abortion groups have filed suit to try and prevent the passing of the Medicaid expansion until the Ohio legislature votes on it. The legislature is expected to vote no, as they successfully passed a budget provision to prohibit Medicaid expansion earlier this year.

That budget provision was vetoed by Kasich, so Attorney General Mike DeWine and State Solicitor Eric Murphy argued that no laws had been broken and the constitution had not been violated in the state’s response. The groups the filed suit now have ten days to file their evidence and briefs.

For now, the battle over Medicaid will take precedent over attempts to restrict the Controlling Board, but the Hagan-Young bill is the General Assembly’s best chance at preventing a situation like this from occurring again.

Kasich’s administration must put the gears in motion soon in order to roll out Medicaid expansion to more than 300,000 new Ohioans on Jan. 1.

 

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