Republicans and Democrats in the Ohio Senate and House reached an historic compromise agreement early this morning to reform the process by which Ohio draws state legislative districts. Tonight’s success comes after years of discussion and months of negotiation.
“Tonight we took an important step forward together, not as Democrats and Republicans but as Ohioans,” said Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley). “The current unbalanced system for drawing districts is a leading cause of political dysfunction and the people of Ohio deserve better. Working together to solve a problem that has vexed our state for decades, we are presenting our constituents with a solution that is fair, bipartisan and transparent.
The Senate passed an amended version of House Joint Resolution 12, with a bipartisan vote of 28 to 1. It now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote, expected next Wednesday, December 17. Upon concurrence from the House, the plan will be put before Ohio voters in the November 2015 election.
The legislation creates a Redistricting Commission composed of seven members: three statewide elected officials - the governor, secretary of state and state auditor, and four members of the legislature - two members of Senate with one representing the minority and two members of the House also with one representing the minority.
The Redistricting Commission would commence in 2021 with the responsibility of drawing Ohio legislative districts based on the next census. Approval of the map requires four members of the commission, including two votes from the minority party. If a bipartisan map is passed, the legislative districts would be in effect for 10 years until the next census. If the vote is not bipartisan, an “impasse” provision allows the map to go into effect for four years, at the end of which time the Commission would reconvene to redraw and pass a new map that would go into effect for the remaining 6 years. Maps drawn under the impasse procedure would be subjected to more stringent standards constraining possible partisan excesses.
A key Senate amendment to HCR 12 included the timing of when impasse maps would be drawn if no bipartisan solution was reached.
“It was very important to our chamber to preserve the institutional integrity of the Senate in order to provide consistency for the constituents in our senate districts,” LaRose continued. “I appreciate the commitment, collegiality and reasonable approach of everyone involved in the negotiations.”
State Senator Larry Obhof (R–Medina) today presented a resolution to the Mansfield Christian boys’ soccer team for winning the Ohio High School Athletics Association Division III state championship. After finishing as state runner up in 2013, Mansfield Christian beat top ranked Columbus Grandview Heights in overtime to claim this year’s title.
“These young men showed exactly what hard work and perseverance can accomplish. After losing in the finals last year this team probably felt disheartened, but instead of giving up they came back this year and won it all,” said Obhof. “I'm very impressed with what this team has accomplished and I am excited to see what they can do next year.”
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
- Improving Diabetes Treatment: Jointly sponsored by Representatives Kristina Roegner (R–Hudson) and Alicia Reece (D–Cincinnati), House Bill 326 would permit pharmacists to aid in treating diabetic patients by fitting them for diabetic shoes, which help improve circulation and prevent potentially dangerous complications. Ohio is one of only 15 states requiring a license to fit pedorthic devices such as diabetic shoes. According to the Ohio State Board of Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics, there are only 129 people licensed to fit pedorthic devices in the state as of December 2012, contrasted with nearly 886,000 people who are diagnosed with diabetes in Ohio.
- Enhancing Access to Immunizations: Jointly sponsored by Representatives Ryan Smith (R–Bidwell) and Nickie Antonio (D–Lakewood), House Bill 394 would permit pharmacists and interns working under them to administer immunizations included among the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended immunization schedules to patients 13 and up and to patients 7-12 with a doctor’s prescription. The legislation also allows pharmacists to administer a flu shot to patients 7 years of age and older.
- Honoring Fallen Heroes: House Bill 440, sponsored by Representative Tim Brown (R–Bowling Green), will name 23 roadways throughout Ohio in honor of fallen heroes in Ohio. The designations include members of military and law enforcement.
- Improving Dental Care Access: House Bill 463, sponsored by Representative Terry Johnson (R–McDermott), will improve Ohioans' access to good dental care by increasing the number of dental hygienists that can practice under the supervision of a dentist and allows those hygienists and other professionals to provide additional services when the dentist isn’t present. The bill also strengthens the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP) by doubling its current capacity to encourage more new dentists to practice in under-served regions of the state. The legislation is the companion bill to Senate Bill 327, sponsored by Senator Joe Uecker (R–Miami Township).
- Promoting Beekeeping: Jointly sponsored by Representatives Mike Dovilla (R–Berea) and Dorothy Pelanda (R–Marysville), House Bill 474 establishes the Ohio State Beekeepers License Plate. The $15 fee for the specialty plate will be used to promote beekeeping, provide educational information about the process, and support other state and local beekeeping programs through the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.
- Bureau of Motor Vehicles Payment Options: Sponsored by Senator Eric Kearney (D–Cincinnati), Senate Bill 53 would require the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to accept credit and debit cards for transactions over ten dollars. Currently, deputy registrar offices are not required to accept those forms of payment.
- Lincoln Highway License Plate: Sponsored by Senator Cliff Hite (R–Findlay), Senate Bill 339 would establish the “Lincoln Highway” license plate. Funds collected from the license plate will go toward preserving the historic Northern Ohio roadway.
The Senate will also consider House amendments to the following bills to which concurrence of the Senate has been requested:
- Ohio Poet Laureate: Sponsored by Senator Eric H. Kearney (D–Cincinnati), Senate Bill 84 would establish the official position of Ohio Poet Laureate. The Ohio Poet Laureate would be required to complete a minimum of four annual public readings while providing public access to at least one reading during each term of office. They would also collaborate with the Ohio Arts Council to establish programs to promote awareness of the literary arts and encourage Ohioans to develop their own creative interests. Four states currently have poet laureates.
- Casino Money Laundering: Sponsored by Senators Larry Obhof (R–Medina) and Jim Hughes (R–Columbus), Senate Bill 141 seeks to prevent money laundering at Ohio’s casino facilities by allowing the Casino Control Commission to investigate cases where structured transactions are used.
- Water Rescues: Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R–Lancaster), Senate Bill 106 prohibits a person from operating their vehicle on a section of roadway that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level. The bill also imposes a fine in order to cover the person’s rescue in the event the law is violated.
- Strengthening Domestic Violence Protections: Senate Bill 177, sponsored by Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) would expressly authorize the inclusion of companion animals in numerous types of protection orders in an effort to prevent pets from being victimized or used to manipulate victims in domestic violence situations. Testimony asserted that 71% of pet-owning women who entered a domestic violence shelter reported that their partner had harmed, threatened, or even killed their companion animal.
The Senate will also consider the report from the following conference committee:
- Powers of Receivership: House Bill 9, sponsored by Representative Peter Stautberg (R–Anderson Township), makes numerous modifications to Ohio’s receivership regulations, which govern the process by which a company or institution can be placed in the hands of an individual (a receiver) in order to pay off debts. The process serves as a more time and cost-effective alternative to bankruptcy. The bill specifically addresses the appointment and authority of a receiver, as well as other provisions concerning the disposition of receivership property.
State Senator Jim Hughes (R–Columbus) today presented a resolution to the Dublin-Jerome High School women’s golf team for winning their fourth straight state title. This year, the team, led by seniors Sybil Robinson and Maite Erana, beat Massillon Jackson by two strokes to claim the 2014 Ohio High School Athletics Association State Championship.
“What these girls have accomplished is simply amazing,” said Hughes. “Winning one state championship is impressive, but these girls have managed to win four straight. This is a perfect example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish. I would like to congratulate these girls on their state championship, they earned it.”
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) issued the following statement today regarding House Bill 490:
“After consulting with my colleagues, I've decided the Senate will not act on House Bill 490 during this legislative session. We simply need more time to consider the substantive issues contained in the 264-page document, and time is not our ally in a lame duck session. Our colleagues in the House had the benefit of eight months to consider the bill between its introduction and passage; we've had it in the Senate for less than three weeks. I came to this decision reluctantly, as I know many people have worked long hours to move House Bill 490 through the legislative process. We are absolutely committed to renewing the debate on these important issues at the outset of the new General Assembly in January.”
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
- Standing for Ohio Military Jobs: House Concurrent Resolution 54 urges the U.S. Congress to continue full funding for the production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35 provides advanced technology not matched by any other weapons system in the world. 56 Ohio manufacturers contribute to the production of the equipment, which has a $42 million economic impact to the state.
- Strengthening Safeguards, Standing for the 2nd Amendment: House Bill 234 modernizes several provisions within Ohio’s concealed carry and hunting laws. The legislation allows hunters to use noise suppressors on their guns, solely for the purpose of hunting, if they undergo an extensive application process, pay ownership transfer tax, and undergo a background check. With passage, Ohio would join 28 other states in permitting the use of suppressors, including four of Ohio’s five neighbors. The bill also strengthens safeguards by requiring the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and disqualifying those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship or been convicted of domestic violence crimes from obtaining a Concealed Handgun License.
- Clarifying Motor Vehicle Dealer Laws: House Bill 318 provides several necessary updates to Ohio’s Motor Vehicle Dealer Laws. The bill better defines the procedures for conducting a motor vehicle show and makes accommodations for dealers to display vehicles at an educational institution for the purpose of aiding the school with fundraising initiatives. The bill also clarifies the law governing retail sale of certain trailers so retail merchants are able to help buyers obtain temporary tags to transport their new trailer home.
- Purple Martin Capital: House Bill 404 seeks to designate the Portage Lakes area in Summit County as the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio. Once an endangered species, the purple martin population has grown and these birds now play an essential role in pest control in Summit County.
- Safeguarding Self Storage Units: House Bill 430 permits limited lines insurance for self storage units and allows the state to oversee the coverage. Nearly 10 percent of Ohio homeowners rent a self-service storage unit, but there is currently no legal framework to allow specific policies to cover the contents of those units, leaving many underinsured or entirely unprotected.
- Strengthening Workers and Small Businesses: House Bill 511 revises eligibility requirements for health insurance coverage. The bill extends the maximum length of a short-term health insurance policy from 6 months to 1 year to provide more flexibility in the use of the product. The legislation also brings Ohio in line with federal healthcare requirements by decreasing the age of eligibility for dependent health insurance coverage from 28 to 26 years old and changes the definition of a full time employee from 25 to 30 hours of work each week for small businesses to allow part time employees to obtain additional hours.
- Promoting Adoption: Senate Bill 250, jointly sponsored by Senators Shannon Jones (R–Springboro) and Frank LaRose (R–Copley), seeks to streamline the process of adopting a child in Ohio and make adoption more affordable for Ohio families. The legislation increases the existing $1,500 adoption tax credit to a minimum credit of $1,500 with a maximum of $10,000 and makes the credit refundable.
- Promoting Safe Use of Fireworks: Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Senator Dave Burke (R–Marysville), would legalize the use of 1.4G consumer grade fireworks in Ohio. Currently, those who purchase fireworks in Ohio must promise to transport them out of the state within 48 hours. The legislation also implements a fee on the sale of consumer grade fireworks to benefit firefighter training programs and the State Fire Marshal’s regulation and enforcement of the fireworks industry.
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
- Streamlining Local Taxes: House Bill 5, jointly sponsored by Representatives Cheryl Grossman (R–Grove City) and Michael Henne (R–Clayton), seeks to streamline Ohio’s municipal tax system to create a more business friendly environment and to lay the groundwork for additional job creation. Ohio is currently the only state in the nation where municipalities set their own rules and regulations, with almost 600 different municipalities utilizing about 300 different forms to collect local income tax on an annual basis.
- Honoring Military Families: Sponsored by Representative Terry Johnson (R–McDermott), House Bill 45 would establish the “Military Sacrifice” license plate to honor the families of fallen service members. The license plate would be available to immediate family members of anyone who has died while honorably serving outside of a combat zone. The initiative is supported by the Ohio Gold Star Family Committee, Ohio Veterans United, and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services Advisory Committee.
- Promoting Good Healthcare: House Bill 320, sponsored by Representative Ron Young (R–Leroy), would strengthen free clinics in Ohio by removing barriers to volunteering for healthcare professionals and promote the use of free clinics to patients who can benefit most from their care. Specifically, the legislation allows doctors and dentists to take part in the Ohio Department of Health’s Physician Loan Repayment Program if they donate their time to a free clinic and expands Ohio’s Good Samaritan Law to cover those treating Medicaid Patients at free clinics. It also seeks to establish a free volunteer license for retired nurses and expands the existing license to retired doctors to also practice on Medicaid patients and establishes December as Free Clinic Awareness Month. According to the Ohio Association for Free Clinics, every dollar invested in free clinics yields nearly $18.00 in care for patients in need.
- Protecting Consumers: Sponsored by Senator Joe Uecker (R–Miami Township), Senate Bill 232 strengthens consumer protections by requiring mechanical repair facilities register with the Ohio Motor Vehicle Repair Board, which has been overseeing the collision repair industry since 1997. Under the legislation, consumers can be confident that their registered repair facility is complying with state and federal regulations.
- Supporting Healthy Intervention for Troubled Students: Senate Bill 266, jointly sponsored by Senators Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) and Peggy Lehner (R–Kettering), would extend current rules regarding the use of seclusion rooms in public school districts to apply also to community and S.T.E.M. schools. Among other things, the rules, which were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2013, necessitate seclusion rooms to have adequate lighting, space and ventilation, and require school personnel to be trained before using the intervention technique.
- Asthma Awareness: Jointly Sponsored by Senators Eric H. Kearney (D–Cincinnati) and Jim Hughes (R–Columbus), Senate Bill 315 would establish both the Month of May as “Asthma Awareness Month” and May 5th of each year as “Childhood Asthma Awareness Day.” One in eleven children and one in twelve adults suffer from asthma in the United States.
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
- Strengthening Ohio Businesses: Senate Resolution 410, sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R–Lancaster), urges the United States Department of Commerce to push back against the growing trade deficit in the glass industry. Between 2004 and 2008, Chinese glass manufacturers received approximately $30.3 billion in subsidies, creating an uneven playing field for U.S. manufacturers.
- Honoring Exemplary Ohioans: Sponsored by Representative Terry Johnson (R–McDermott), House Bill 36 would designate three memorial roadways in Ohio including the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway, the Specialist 4 Samuel A. Johnson Memorial highway, and the Oakley C. Collins Memorial Bridge.
- Dravet Syndrome Awareness: House Bill 270, sponsored by Representative John Rogers (D–Mentor on the Lake), would designate October 16th of every calendar year as “Dravet Syndrome Awareness Day.” Dravet Syndrome is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy. Beginning during infancy, the condition causes severe and sometimes deadly seizures.
- Entertainment Districts: Sponsored by Senator Eric H. Kearney (D–Cincinnati), Senate Bill 116 would permit municipal corporations with populations greater than 35,000 people to create municipal entertainment districts that are exempt from the state’s open container laws. The intention of the law is to promote tourism and economic development in designated entertainment areas.
- Defining Criminal Intent: Senate Bill 361, sponsored by Senator Bill Seitz (R–Cincinnati), seeks to establish a default level of criminal intent (mens rea) when a crime is committed. Some portions of the criminal code in Ohio do not take into consideration the accused individual’s level of intent in committing a crime, which can create risk that citizens may become guilty of crimes by accident or mere inadvertence. The bill also requires that future criminal justice legislation in Ohio specify the degree of mental culpability needed for that offense.
The Senate will also consider House amendments to the following bill:
- Supporting Locally Owned Pharmacies: Senate Bill 258, sponsored by Senator Troy Balderson (R–Zanesville) would revise the process used by insurance companies to audit Ohio pharmacies. The current system can be highly costly, and unpredictable, specifically for small, locally owned pharmacies where audit verification is handled in-house instead of through a corporate office.
State Senator Troy Balderson (R–Zanesville) today honored Heidi Jo McGrady, a sixth-grade student in the Logan-Hocking School System at the Ohio Statehouse.
McGrady, then a fifth-grader, led the school’s archery team to place fourth out of 30 teams in the elementary-school division during the 2014 National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament. The competition was held in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The Logan-Hocking team did an outstanding job representing Southeast Ohio on the national stage, and Heidi has proven herself both an outstanding athlete and a great leader for her team,” said Balderson.
McGrady also placed first out of all 297 girls in the tournament.
The student addressed the chamber during the Senate’s Tuesday session after being honored with a resolution from Balderson.
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State Senator Bill Beagle (R–Tipp City) today awarded a Senate resolution to the Tippecanoe High School Boys Cross Country Team, commending them on their Division II State Championship.
“Coach Byron Kimmel and this team have proven their remarkable abilities and determination through this monumental win for Tipp City,” said Beagle. “It is an honor to congratulate them and share their success with the Ohio Senate today.”
This is the first team State Championship in Tippecanoe High School athletic history. The 2014 Varsity Boys Cross Country team was undefeated in their season. Junior Mitch Poynter earned All Ohio honors and Senior Daniel Frame earned Honorable Mention All Ohio honors.