Statehouse Preview – Week of June 25

Who’s Ready For Summer Break?!

Ohio lawmakers are. Both the House and Senate will hold their final scheduled voting sessions Wednesday before members take the next four months off to campaign before the November election. That makes it do-or-die time for legislation, so Statehouse watchers know to be vigilant for some last minute surprises.

We’ll know more in the coming days exactly which bills will be up for a vote. This morning, the House will set its schedule for Wednesday votes and the Senate follows suit Wednesday. For now, we can make some educated guesses about what will happen in this final week.

Bills to Watch in the House

HB36, the so-called Pastor Protection Act is back. The bill states that clergy cannot be forced to perform marriage ceremonies contrary to their religious believes, and was shelved in 2017 after a loud public outcry over its necessity. No witnesses could identify a case in which any church office was forced to solemnize a marriage. Tomorrow it’s back in committee for a vote, then its sponsor says it will move to the House floor.

HB228“Stand Your Ground” legislation could be on the House floor Wednesday for a vote. In addition to allowing the use of deadly force in places not covered by the state’s existing Castle doctrine, the bill also bans cities from enacting gun ordinances and expands the right to carry concealed weapons into more places without penalty. (media reports late Monday suggest the bill may be postponed until fall, but no one could say definitively).

SB220 creates safe harbor for businesses that expose your personal data to cyber crime, making it impossible for identity theft victims to sue for damages. It is up for a vote in a House committee after just two hearings.

SB216, a so-called education “deregulation” bill which exempts high-performing (typically high-wealth) districts from certain state regulations, is up for a vote in the House Education committee this week. The measure could be an attractive vehicle for education-related amendments, such as changes to how the State regulates eSchools, especially now that a standalone bill (HB707) was pulled from the schedule.

HB585, the bipartisan package of gun reforms proposed by Governor Kasich, was added late to today’s committee schedule in the House. No testimony will be offered, but the committee will adopt a substitute bill.

Bills To Watch In The Senate

HB123, which would put limits on payday lenders, is scheduled for multiple hearings and a vote in a Senate committee, where many expect it will be watered down with industry-friendly amendments before going before the full Senate for a vote Wednesday.

HB114, which weakens the state’s renewable energy standards, is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee and is also likely to be on the floor for a Wednesday vote.

If passed by the Senate, both HB123 and HB114 will look substantially different than the versions passed by the House. If the House refuses to concur with Senate amendments, the bills would go to a conference committee, which likely wouldn’t meet until the legislature reconvenes in the fall.

HB87 would allow funds to be returned to local school districts if the Auditor of State issues a finding for recovery against a charter school. Unfortunately, because Auditor Yost has not issued such a finding regarding the $80 million schools districts lost to ECOT, the bill will not help districts hurt as a result of the largest financial scandal in state history. But, like SB216, this bill should also be watched as a potential vehicle for education-related amendments.

To see the full line-up of bills being heard this week, check out:

House committee schedule
Senate committee schedule

Ohio lawmakers may hold a vote this week on dangerous “Stand Your Ground” legislation, which would allow armed individuals to use deadly force even when it would have been possible to walk away safely. House Bill 228 also blocks Ohio communities from enacting their own gun safety laws.

Take Action: Ask your State Representative to VOTE NO ON HB228.