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Government & Politics

Ohio Lawmakers Wrap Up with a Marathon Session

photo of Ohio House chamber

The Ohio House and Senate took on a packed slate of bills during the last day of lawmaking before leaving for summer break. 

The bang of the gavel could be heard throughout the day inside the House and Senate chambers as the General Assembly cranked through about 50 pieces of legislation.

To put that into perspective, the House and Senate usually see five to eight bills on a typical day in session.

And while medical marijuana was the blockbuster issue of the day, the Legislature had plenty of other big measures on its plate.

photo of Port Columbus International Airport
Concourse C at Port Columbus International Airport

That includes renaming the Port Columbus International Airport after astronaut and former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Glenn. The measure was so prominent that Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger delivered a rare floor speech.

“From combat missions over Korea to orbiting this great Earth to the halls of Congress to again launching off into space as a senior citizen -- (Glenn) has done great things and (made) great strides for our country and our state to represent it. And I cannot think of anyone else that’s more befitting of the honor of having Port Columbus International Airport renamed John Glenn Columbus International Airport.”

The provision passed unanimously.

Easing restrictions on wine sales

photo of Gayle Manning
Senator Gayle Manning (R-Lorain)

On the other side of the Statehouse in the Senate chambers was a bill to allow wine to be sold and sampled at farmers markets. Republican Sen. Gayle Manning of Lorain County says this can have several benefits.

“This is also going to create additional part-time jobs at wineries, ... and they’re going to be able to help grow the tourism in your different districts.”

That wasn’t the only alcohol-related bill passed during the busy day. The Senate approved measures that loosen the restrictions on winery farms and distilleries so they can sell and sample their product on location.

Controversial bills passed
There were some controversial bills as well, such as one that overrides local laws that regulate where stores such as Petland can get the puppies they sell.

photo of  Joe Schiavoni
Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman)

The Senate also passed the contentious fetal disposal bill that requires the remains from abortions to either be buried or cremated. The leader of the Senate Democrats, Joe Schiavoni, called it an excessive burden on women.

"It may not legally restrict a woman’s right to abortion, but it shames her after she’s already made that decision into making another decision. And for me that is something that we should not be legislating.”

The issue gained attention after Attorney General Mike DeWine accused Planned Parenthood’s disposal contractors of placing fetal remains in landfills. Republican Sen.Bill Coley fears that could leave a lasting legacy for archaeologists.

“I don’t want it to be where in like South America or some areas in the world and they find that babies were sacrificed or were thrown out with the garbage and things like that.”

The measure passed along party lines.

Late into the evening

photo of Tim Brown
Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green)

Back across the Statehouse Rotunda in the House, where session was also going well into the evening, the representatives passed a few more bills including one that could improve open records laws. Republican Rep. Tim Brown of Bowling Green said the bill will expedite a records request in hopes of avoiding the court system.

“The current method of resolving records dispute is not very accessible to the average Ohioan. It can be costly and take years.”

Not quite done for the year
The House and Senate now go on summer break. But many bills remain, and they might not be addressed until a lame duck session after the November elections. That includes extending a freeze on green energy standards for utilities and that so-called Petland bill that still needs to go through the House.