With two weeks remaining before summer recess, this week’s newsletter includes more updates than usual as lawmakers rush to pass priority legislation before the break. Guns, abortions and private school vouchers are among the hot items on the agenda, as we outline below. We conclude with three actions you can take.
This week, the Senate wraps up its work on the state two-year budget plan (HB49), with a vote expected in Finance committee tomorrow afternoon, followed by a vote of the full chamber on Wednesday. Addiitonal amendments are expected, though a Democratic proposal to fill a $1 billion budget gap by closing a tax loophole rather than making cuts to programs and services is unlikely to be adopted by the GOP majority.
After its adoption by the Senate, the bill heads to a conference committee with the House and must pass both chambers by the June 30 end of the current fiscal year.
A proposal (HB102, Brenner) to scrap local school taxes in favor of a statewide property tax, and make major changes to how the state funds public, charter and private schools is on the agenda for its first hearing in the House Finance committee tomorrow. Here’s what IO’s Education Policy fellow, Stephen Dyer, had to say about the measure:
It would take property tax and current state taxes, roll them into a big pot, then distribute it out to students who could then use them in any public or private school in the state. It would allow charter and private schools to collect local property tax revenue, while making it illegal for local school districts to go to the ballot to subsidize their students’ educations. The base per pupil amount Brenner is talking about — $8,720 per pupil — would mean that 85 percent of school districts would get cut (because they receive more now in state and local revenue than that) while 85 percent of charter schools would see increases. It would destroy many local school districts and could undo the state’s public education system.
In the House Education committee Tuesday, a proposal (HB220) to declare state funds distributed to charter schools are public dollars, subject to oversight gets a first hearing, and a plan to greatly expand Ohio’s private school voucher program (HB200) is up for a 5th hearing
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary committee will hold a 2nd hearing on SB145, legislation that would ban the most common method of 2nd trimester abortion. Last week’s hearing featured a silent protest featuring women dresses as characters from the Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian vision featuring forced birth. Abortion advocates again are calling on Ohioans to attend the hearing to demonstrate opposition to the measure. https://www.facebook.com/events/742881212560030
Tuesday also features a hearing of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations committee entirely dedicated to five new proposals to loosen Ohio’s gun laws. Bills up for a hearing include HB79 (firearms training), HB142 (duty to notify law enforcement of a concealed weapon), HB201 (eliminates licensing requirement for concealed carry), HB228 (eliminates “duty to retreat” and puts burden of proof on prosecution to disprove claims of guns used in self defense) and HB233 (decriminalize carrying into a gun free zone). A vote on HB142 is expected.
The House Criminal Justice committee on Tuesday takes up a proposal (SB4) to allow victims of human trafficking to have their criminal records expunged. The measure passed the Senate on a vote of 33-0 in May.
Finally, on Wednesday, HB240, the “Respect Your Date” Act, which requires state colleges and universities to adopt policies on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and rape on campus, gets its first hearing in the House Higher Education and Workforce Development committee.
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