Ohio Statehouse

At 4th & State downtown, a team of workers are punching broken panes of glass out of their window frames. 

UPDATE: Gov. Mike DeWine will hold a press conference to speak about "the events yesterday and this morning at the Ohio Statehouse and downtown Columbus" at 2pm Friday. It'll air live on the Ohio Channel.

A protest that started at an intersection near the Ohio Statehouse spilled over onto the grounds last night, resulting in damage to the 159-year old building - which has been the site of many demonstrations and public events over the years.

Ohio leaders are condemning threats of violence made against Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and her father, state Sen. Vernon Sykes, last weekend.

a photo of protestors
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Around 75 protesters gathered outside of the Ohio Statehouse on Thursday to criticize the government's restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ohio Statehouse
CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

Twenty-one bills were signed into law in Ohio in 2019, including the new $69 billion two-year budget, a controversial energy bill that reduced or eliminated clean energy standards, and an abortion bill that was put on hold by a federal court before it could take effect.

As part of a continuing series from Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau, correspondent Jo Ingles takes a look at the bills that passed in 2019.

Ohio Statehouse
CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

The battle over the energy law that starts providing subsidies to Ohio’s two nuclear power plants in 2021 might not be over. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to decide whether opponents of the law can take it to voters.

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.

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