During the legislature’s overnight culminating session, Ohio lawmakers approved over 30 pieces of legislation that now head to Governor Mike DeWine‘s desk for approval. If DeWine does nothing the legislation will take effect without his signature. However, he has ten days, with the exception of Sundays, following the acquisition of the bills to approve or veto the legislation if he so chooses.
On December 22nd, DeWine’s office received a raft of 24 bills. The deadline for DeWine to take action on those bills to either sign or veto is January 3rd.
Here is what passed:
House Bill (HB) 513: Sponsored by state Representatives Jon Cross (R-Kenton) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) creates a “bad debt refund” for tobacco wholesalers when retailers fail to pay. A late amendment added prohibitions for local tobacco regulations.
HB 45: Sponsored by state Representatives Thomas West (D-Canton) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) to establish a temporary tax amnesty program that would forgive interest and penalties on delinquent taxes and fees. Amendments appropriated $6 billion in federal COVID relief.
HB 558: Sponsored by state Representatives Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) and Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) modifies the state’s donated drug repository program allowing unused prescription drugs to be safely donated by end users to charitable pharmacies and non-profit clinics.
HB 107: Sponsored by state Representative Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) revises Ohio’s elevator laws to modernize the current statute to increase safety, transparency, and accountability in the operation, installation, and ongoing maintenance of elevators.
HB 343: Sponsored by state Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) revises the rights of crime victims to ensure victims are treated fairly and consistently across our state’s criminal justice system and given the full opportunity to exercise their rights.
HB 353: Sponsored by state Representatives Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Jessica Miranda (D-Columbus) requires each state institution of higher education to adopt a policy providing students with religious accommodations.
HB 392: Sponsored by state Representatives Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) and Kevin Miller (R-Newark) authorizes emergency medical personnel to transport injured police dogs by ambulance to a veterinarian center for treatment.
HB 578: Sponsored by state Representative Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) creates and amends various specialty license plates and designates and amends various memorial highways and bridges.
HB 545: Sponsored by state Representatives Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) and Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) creates privileged peer support for first responders and law enforcement.
HB 554: Sponsored by state Representatives Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) and Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) allows Ohio’s State Board of Education to issue temporary educator licenses to applicants with expired professional teacher’s certificates and professional educator licenses as long as the educator left the profession in good standing.
HB 569: Sponsored by state Representatives Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) and Andrea White (R-Kettering) authorize institutions of higher education to establish Ohio Hidden Hero Scholarship Programs for people serving as family caregivers.
HB 487: Sponsored by state Representative Tom Young (R-Washington Twp.) will make changes to current ballot printing and contract law in Ohio, to include out-of-state printing.
HB 462: Sponsored by state Representative Kevin Miller (R-Newark) increases the penalties for “swatting.”
HB 150: Sponsored by state Representatives David Leland (D-Columbus) and Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) establishes the Rural Practice Incentive Program to pay student loans for attorneys working in public offices or underserved communities.
HB 405: Sponsored by state Representatives Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe) and Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) clarifies the nature of the appointing authority to the boards of trustees for local county hospitals, gives coroners access to a law enforcement database and allows treasurers to send bills electronically.
HB 423: Sponsored by state Representatives Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) and Bob Young (R-Green) designates the American Soap Box Derby Ohio’s official gravity racing program.
HB 458: Sponsored by state Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township) eliminates August special elections except for US House nomination. Amendments were added to include photo-ID requirements for voters and tighter limitations on the return of absentee ballots.
HB 364: Sponsored by state Representative Thomas Patton (R-Strongsville) permits waterworks and sewage disposal companies to request up to three System Improvement Charges filings spaced one year apart between full rate cases.
SB 302: Sponsored by Senators Bob Hackett (R-London) and Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) revises and updates Ohio’s unemployment compensation system to prevent fraud and increase its responsiveness and accuracy.
SB 288: Sponsored by Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) changes how quickly inmates can earn time off of their prison sentences, expands immunity from prosecution for minor drug possession offenses, and strengthens penalties for domestic violence offenders.
Some Ohioans are reaching out to urge DeWine to veto certain pieces of legislation while others are standing behind in support.
Democrats urge DeWine to veto HB 458 which would require voters to have photo ID saying voter ID restriction is not a necessary provision in the legislation and that the system is working as is.
“We think that the laws as they currently stand — which include photo ID but also include things like government documents or bank statements or any kind of military ID — those all really work well,” Ohio Association of Elected Officials executive director Aaron Ockerman said.
Republican Ohio Secretary of State said that although Ohio has a good voter ID process that this is a good piece of legislation.
“This is one of those things that people like to debate. What they ought to do is look at what Ohio does because, again, we found that good balance where we protect the integrity of our process and it’s something we care very deeply about. We’re also reasonable when it comes to knowing that sometimes life happens, and so we don’t want to turn anyone away. Ohio’s voter ID process is a good one and a good law to make it convenient to vote,” Frank LaRose said.
The Ohio Chambers of Commerce said that the establishment of a temporary tax amnesty program that would forgive interest and penalties on delinquent taxes and fees will create a fresh start for Ohioans.
“HB 45 allows a window of time for individuals and businesses to correct any missed filing obligations or unforeseen tax obligations. This will allow those individuals or entities to create a fresh start,” Tony Long of the Ohio Chambers of Commerce said.
Democrats homed in on a different part of the same bill urging DeWine to use his executive powers to line-item veto three included provisions that would disqualify developments using the federal low-income housing tax credit from using a state credit for rehabbing historic buildings.
“These provisions, added at the eleventh hour of a lame duck session, were added with zero input from developers and affordable housing advocates. The policies are bad for Ohioans and bad for Ohio business,” they wrote in a press release.
Ohio Mayors have criticized the bill prohibiting local governments in Ohio from enacting any laws regarding tobacco or vaping products that are more strict than state law. The city of Columbus approved a ban on flavored tobacco just days prior to state lawmakers approving legislation that would make Columbus City Council’s ban illegal. DeWine has hinted at potentially vetoing this legislation citing his past work fighting big tobacco.
A bill signed by the governor becomes effective on the 91st day after it is sent to the Ohio Secretary of State. However, if the legislation was passed as an emergency measure it becomes law immediately after being filed with the Secretary of State. The governor has the power to veto parts of a bill, but only if it deals with the state’s money. If the governor vetoes a bill, a three-fifths majority in both chambers is required to override it.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Steven Miller. CC BY 2.0.