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Government & Politics

After 47 Vetoes on the Budget, Ohio Lawmakers Expect Work to Carry Over to Fourth of July

photo of Ohio House Chamber

The 4th of July celebrations are taking place throughout the state, but Ohio lawmakers are unlikely to truly be taking a break. That's because Gov. John Kasich vetoed 47 items when he signed Ohio's two-year budget Friday. One of those is the controversial plan to freeze Medicaid expansion in Ohio in July of next year.

Some former state lawmakers know what it’s like to take their work home with them.

There are dates set aside on the legislative calendar later this week and next so lawmakers could, if they elect, come back into session to override Gov. John Kasich’s vetoes. Former state lawmaker Gene Krebs says he remembers when it took a long time during recesses to do some of the most basic things.

“My wife knew sending me into the grocery store was a 2 1/2 hour grueling experience as I got stopped three times in every aisle,” he said.

He says his experience wasn’t unique.

“Your state legislators live right in the middle of the rest of us and so they are always encountering Bobby and Betty Buckeye at the grocery store, at the gas station. And Bobby and Betty Buckeye have no hesitation about telling their legislator helpful things for them to remember.”

Former State Rep. and current Columbus City Council member Mike Stinziano is also the son of a former state legislator. And he agrees holiday cookouts are different for lawmakers.

“You are definitely not going to enjoy that hotdog without hearing from somebody. There’s always going to be an opportunity that people are excited to see at the event and definitely will share their concern or support for any provision,” he said.

Horse trading and shortened vacations
Krebs says that’s why some lawmakers want a little private time to themselves and their families over the holidays. But he says overriding vetoes takes precedence.

“Many members will have already assumed that right after the budget, they can go on vacation. So they may already have airline tickets purchased or cabins in the mountains rented or down on the beach. So they may have to leave there or come back from there,” he said.

Stinziano says he has personal experience with that.

“I had the unfortunate experience of having to fly back from vacation to be there for an important piece of legislation that I was managing. I didn’t necessarily need to be there. The votes were there, but it was too important for the district that I had to wake up very early and take a red eye back to make sure that I was there,” he said.

Stinziano says his legislation was not a veto vote like the one lawmakers are considering now. He suspects lawmakers are talking to each other during this holiday week.

“There’s absolutely some horse-trading going on. Some votes are being measured against what’s going to be best for their district or commitment to help move other important legislation down the road,” he said.

'If needed...'
There is a full House and Senate session scheduled for next week, on July 12th. The session is designated as “if needed.”

Legislative leaders say if vetoes are going to occur, they’d like to do them by the 12th because after that, the General Assembly will be taking a break until September. And they say they’d like to have the budget wrapped up before taking that break.