Ohio Statehouse

photo of the Ohio Statehouse
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Senate leaders are working on moving a bill that could change the way the state punishes drug possession. The top Senate leader says the plan to change drug sentencing laws is one of the most important pieces of legislation they'll have during this two-year session. 

State Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) says they're looking over more than three dozen amendments proposed for the bill.

photo of a pot dispensary sign
CHUCK COKER / FLICKR CC

Nearly 75,000 Ohioans have registered with the state to receive medical marijuana. Of those, just over 51,000 have actually purchased the product. Those involved with the program propose some changes they say will improve it for everyone.

Erin Reed, the Board of Pharmacy’s director of medical marijuana, says changes to the program are necessary.

photo of nativity
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A small nativity is on display at the Ohio Statehouse. The private group and lawmakers who want it there say it’s perfectly constitutional.

The nativity scene on the west side of the Statehouse is enclosed in a box the size of a doghouse. State Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) says the creche, put up by the Thomas More Society, is constitutional. "It’s not state sanctioned."

Wind Farm
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

The bill to put proposed wind farms up for local votes was up for debate in an Ohio House committee. Supporters of the legislation argued that it gives community members a voice on big industrial projects. But critics say it will repress wind energy development. 

Companies spend millions of dollar developing wind farm plans. Industry experts argue that companies won't even entertain the idea of a development plan if it could just be rejected by a local vote at the finish line.

photo of the Ohio Statehouse
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

State lawmakers have touted their support of a new law that eliminates the so-called “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products and gives a tax credit to teachers buying supplies. It also restores a $250,000 income tax break for lawyers and lobbyists. It can seem to be a mixed message Republican leaders are sending on tax policy.

phot of books on philosophy sit on a shelf in the Kent State Bookstore, Kent State University. Kent, Ohio. Thursday, Nov. 15, 2019
CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

State lawmakers are looking at a proposal to eliminate sales taxes on college textbooks. Efforts to remove those taxes have not gone anywhere before but the lawmakers sponsoring it hope this time will be different.

Republican Representative Niraj Antani and Democratic Representative Bride Rose Sweeney don’t agree on much politically, but they say college students in Ohio often struggle to pay for textbooks. 

“College textbooks are a necessary educational item,” said Antani. “It adds up substantially,” Sweeney said.

photo of the Ohio Statehouse
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio lawmakers are proposing a new bill to crack down on human trafficking by going after the people who fund the practice – those who recruit and force people into prostitution and those who pay for it. 

Ohio has passed bills to stop human trafficking but State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) says it is still a big problem.

“Ohio is the fourth worst state in the United States [for human trafficking].” 

Photo of Mike DeWine
TY GREENLEES / DAYTON DAILY NEWS

Gov. Mike DeWine’s package of proposals to reduce gun violence through mental health and gun policy changes is getting mixed reviews. 

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) says the so-called STRONG Ohio plan is weak, especially since it doesn’t include required background checks, which DeWine said early on he wanted and which Democrats have been pushing for.

“It makes it much harder for people in our caucus to get behind something that we don’t quite see as legitimate and strong and what people have requested from us,” Sykes said. 

Ohio Statehouse
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

If you are a lawyer, a lobbyist, a teacher or someone who uses feminine hygiene products, you could be getting closer to a tax break. 

Earlier this year, Ohio lawmakers passed a change preventing lawyers and lobbyists from taking advantage of a tax break that exempts the first $250,000 earned from income tax. The House has now reversed that, unanimously passing a bill that restores that break for those professions. Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says it was a matter of necessity.

The leader of the Ohio House says he’s just following the law by omitting protections for the House’s LGBTQ members and staffers. A previous policy had included language that was meant to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says that line was removed because he wanted the House’s anti-discrimination policies to follow classes designated in federal and state laws.

Hundreds of students skipped class to rally at the Ohio Statehouse for action against climate change as part of the worldwide Climate Strike protest. 

Backers of the women in leadership positions resolution, including Democratic Rep. Allison Russo (center),  Republican Rep. Sara Carruthers (back far right) and Democratic Rep. Thomas West (back right)  at the Ohio Statehouse.
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

In 2016, women represented more than 44% of the labor force in Ohio but just slightly more than 20% of the seats on boards of Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in Ohio. Some Ohio lawmakers want to change that and  are proposing a resolution they think will help.

State Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) credits Ohio’s top leader for creating more gender equity. “Gov. DeWine has more women in his cabinet than any prior governor,” she said.

A 'voting today' sign outside of an Ohio polling station
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Friday is the day that tens, and maybe hundreds of thousands of dead voters and duplicate registrations will be removed from the voter rolls in Ohio. But voting rights groups say they’re still worried eligible voters will be purged by mistake. 

The process removes registrations of people who, for the past six years, haven’t voted and haven’t responded to board of elections mailings. But Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper says there are eligible voters who’ve been mistakenly identified as inactive.

A photo of Matt Dolan
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio Senate’s budget plan adds more money to the fund that helps children who are dealing with severe mental and developmental issues. But the changes include a policy shift that helps parents maintain custody of their children in the process.

The Senate heard the testimony of several parents who were forced to give up their kids to get state-paid treatment.

Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said their budget will change the rules to avoid child custody relinquishment.

an ad for foster parents
/ OHIO DJFS FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION WEBSITE

The Ohio House has unanimously passed a bill to offer some flexibility in state training requirements for people who want to become foster parents. This comes as the system struggles with more kids than ever and not enough foster homes.

A photo of House Speaker Larry Householder.
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio Senate will begin official hearings on the extensive energy bill that would redirect the state’s attention away from renewables and subsidize nuclear and coal instead.

As a lead-up to hearings, state senators heard testimony from researchers and industry experts. 

The bill, which would bail out nuclear power and get rid of wind and solar mandates, has already passed the House. 

A photo of Shawn Rohlin holding daughter Madeline
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Democratic lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would require health insurance companies provide coverage for children’s hearing aids. Parents are discovering the tool that can help their children learn and develop is treated as a cosmetic device.

Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley couldn’t believe it when she discovered her daughter Madeline’s hearing aids weren’t covered by their insurance company because they were considered cosmetic.

Photo of execution bed.
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill banning execution of people found to have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other severe mental illnesses when they committed murder. It still has to go to the Senate, but it’s a win for a group that’s been pushing for this for years.

A photo of Senator Bill Coley
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A state senator is touting a new program that helps connect young people with employers. And it also pays for college. Lawmakers say this can play a critical role in college affordability and workforce development.

Miami University’s Hamilton Campus is partnering with local employers. Together they will take in 50 students who can pursue any major they want while working part-time for one of the companies.

In turn the companies will pay a wage, pay tuition, and provide supportive housing.

gun and bullets
KIATTIPONG / SHUTTERSTOCK

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Feb. 18:

TY GREENLEES / DAYTON DAILY NEWS

Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is preparing to roll out his first proposed budget, which will likely include several big agenda items. But DeWine says there won’t be too many surprises.

As his cabinet works to craft a budget plan, Gov. Mike DeWine has already set into motion several major initiatives, such as supporting early childhood programs and addressing the drug epidemic.

DeWine Administration Is Taking Shape

Jan 10, 2019
A photo of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Governor-Elect Mike DeWine has nominated leaders for 14 more state departments under his administration. The Senate gets the final say. Many of them have decades of experience in the field their agencies will deal with.

Longtime Republican state Sen. Randy Gardner will be chancellor of higher education.

Lori Criss will be director of the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. She’s been working with behavioral health providers for 20 years. 

Ohio Statehouse
Statehouse News Bureau

In between campaigning and legislating, state lawmakers also found themselves in the middle of some high profile drama and scandal in 2018.  

News that the Speaker of the Ohio House might be under investigation by the FBI for international travel with payday lenders broke in early April. Within a week, Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) resigned, though he said in a statement his actions have been both ethical and lawful. Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said Rosenberger put the state and the chamber ahead of himself.

photo of John Kasich, Larry Obhof
DAN KONIK / OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

As this session of the Ohio General Assembly winds to a close, leaders are looking back at their accomplishments but also at what didn’t get done.

More than 150 bills were signed into law in the past two years.

But Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) says there’s one big thing left on the table that stands out.

“Unemployment compensation is one that I think we need to do. We can’t keep kicking the road down on that," Obhof said. 

Photo of the Ohio Statehouse
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A controversial bill that bans abortion at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected is on its way to Gov. John Kasich. The Ohio House passed the bill overnight with changes made by the Senate by a margin of 53 votes to 32.

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