Today, the Ohio House will hold its last voting session before a long recess that could last until after November elections. We will cover the session live on our Twitter account (@innovationohio), but here is an overview of what to expect:
The House says to expect 31 bills to be on the floor. Today’s session calendar lists 29 bills up for a vote, but the chamber will also consider whether to agree to amendments on bills coming out of the Senate.
HB36 (“Pastor Protection Act”) – Supporters claim this bill will “protect pastors and churches” from participating in any marriage to which they have a religious objection. While there is no evidence that any member of clergy has ever been forced to perform a wedding against their will–both the Ohio and US Constitution already grant this type of religious freedom–the sponsor says the bill is necessary to avoid the hypothetical possibility of lawsuits. Opponents have noted that the bill’s very broad language could have unintended consequences leading to further discrimination. The bill stalled in March, 2017 when House leaders were unsure whether it had the votes to pass.
HB240 (“Respect Your Date Act”) – requires state colleges and universities to adopt policies on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and rape on campus.
HB355 (Sexting ban) – prohibits sexting by anyone under 19. Opposed by prosecutors and the ACLU of Ohio, who call it unproductive and unnecessary. ACLU of Ohio warns that “the stigma behind any criminal conviction is severe, and to tar these kids as sex offenders could quite literally ruin their lives. This charge could make it impossible for young people to access opportunities for education, housing, and employment for years to come.”
HB425 (Body Cameras) – exempts certain private images captured by police body camera from public records, and has received the suport of law enforcement, privacy advocates and media outlets, suggesting the legislation struck a good balance between the public’s right to know and individual privacy.
HB497 (Revenge Porn) – prohibits the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. A companion bill is pending in the Ohio Senate.
HB511 (Marriage Age) – would raise the marriage age to 18 with limited exceptions, curtailing the practice of child marriage in Ohio. Read our earlier coverage of this important legislation, which also has a companion measure pending in the Ohio Senate.
SB216 (Education “deregulation”) – this bill would lift some regulations on high-performing (typically high wealth school districts), but was amended yesterday to include additional measures relating to online charter schools (eSchools) in the wake of the ECOT disaster. The bill reduces the number of consecutive hours an eschool student can fail to log on without being automatically unenrolled and creates a study commission to come up with a new approach for funding eschools. Most notably, the bill gives safe harbor to online charter schools that picked up ECOT students left behind when the school abruptly closed, ensuring their test scores would not affect the school’s sponsor ratings.
It’s also worth noting what’s not on the floor today. Some bills were advanced out of committee, but won’t be up for a vote today, including:
These bills could easily come back and receive a vote after the elections in the so-called lame duck session before a new Governor takes office, so continued vigilance will be critical.
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