What Ohio State House did in 2021

Ohioans might be betting on the Bengals and next fall the bill at the center of Ohio’s biggest public corruption scandal has largely been dismantled and schools have a new formula funding.

But a bill to reform local police departments has failed to materialize, the debate over how we teach racism continues and Republicans cannot agree on whether to ban private companies to require vaccinations.

And that’s only the first year.

Ohio lawmakers have two years to pass their bills through the General Assembly, and December 2021 marks the midpoint of the legislative session.

Here’s what the 134th Ohio General Assembly did and didn’t accomplish in the first year of its two-year session:

Abortion in Ohio

Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill in December that placed new restrictions on providers of surgical abortions. A new rule makes failure to submit documents after certain abortions a third-degree felony.

A second rule limited the types of doctors who could contract with surgical centers, potentially forcing the closure of two clinics in southwest Ohio.

Another bill that has yet to be passed is a trigger law that would ban abortions in Ohio upon the cancellation of Roe v. Wade. Senate Bill 123 went through two committee hearings.

Second Amendment legislation

After the deadly mass shooting in downtown Dayton, DeWine promised he would “do something.” But over the next two years, the legislature only moved forward on bills making it easier to carry a weapon.

Senator Matt Dolan, R-Chargin Falls, introduced DeWine’s gun reform package at the last general assembly, but he did not bring it back in 2021. Dolan is a candidate for the 2022 GOP primary for an open seat in the US Senate.

Instead, the Ohio House and Senate each adopted their version of constitutional deferral. A law that would allow anyone 21 years of age or older to carry a concealed firearm without any safety training or instruction.

Republicans say all gun owners need safety training, but it’s not a constitutional requirement.

Democratic Senator Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, introduced four gun control bills this year, but none of them had a hearing.

Senate Bill 73 would require a universal background check. Senate Bill 74 would raise the age for owning a firearm to 21. Senate Bill 76 would let local governments make their own gun laws. And Senate Bill 77 would ban exceptional stocks.

Police reform

Republican Representatives Phil Plummer, R-Dayton and Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison stood on the House floor just weeks after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 and promised they would work together on a bill to change the way local police services work.

The pair, who both have training in law enforcement, told reporters they wanted to create a Professional Licensing Board, a state-wide database for reporting. on the use of force and finding a way to pay for additional training.

But more than a year and a half later, their legislation has yet to take off.

Democrats have introduced a handful of bills to change how police services work, but they’re not budging either.

House Bill 11, introduced in February, would create an office conduct database that could be used during the hiring process. He was not heard.

Medical marijuana

An overhaul of the Ohio medical marijuana system was passed by the Ohio Senate in December. Senate Bill 261 would increase the number of dispensary licenses and the number of legal requirements.

Recreational cannabis could also be on the legislative agenda in 2022.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in December. If enough of them are valid, lawmakers will have four months to pass legislation legalizing recreational marijuana.

If they don’t, the matter could be sent back to voters in November.

Funding of public schools

Ohio lawmakers rewrote the formula for funding public schools when they passed the state budget in June.

Some of the major changes include:

Choice of school (school vouchers)

The state budget has also benefited supporters of the two major state bond programs known as the EdChoice Scholarships.

The amounts of annual scholarships have increased and the caps on the number of students who can obtain them have been lifted.

School choice advocates also introduced a major bill in 2021. The Backpack Bill (House Bill 290) would essentially make all children in Ohio eligible for school vouchers.

Household and House Bill 6

Ohio House expelled former president Larry Householder in June – nearly a year after his shocking arrest for an alleged role in the biggest public corruption scandal in state history.

The little story is, House Bill 6 was a billion dollar bailout for two nuclear power plants along Lake Erie. Federal prosecutors say the former speaker and four other men accepted nearly $ 61 million in bribes from Akron-based FirstEnergy in exchange for the legislation.

Householder claims his innocence, but two of the other men have signed a guilty plea. A trial is scheduled for 2022.

But what about the bailout? Lawmakers repealed it in March 2021, but several other parts of the bill remain in place, including subsidies for two coal-fired power plants.

COVID-19 legislation

Republicans in Ohio House and the Senate overturned DeWine’s veto in March, giving themselves the power to overturn his statewide health orders and end his states of emergency.

Republicans such as Bill’s sponsor Rob McColley, a senator to Napoleon, have called it a much-needed correction to Ohio’s separation of powers.

But Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, called the bill an overreaction to “hurt feelings” that could endanger the lives of Ohioans in the future.

Sports betting

Just before lawmakers left for their vacation, they passed a bill to legalize sports betting in Ohio.

But don’t start looking to bet on the Buckeyes right away. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has until Jan. 1, 2023 to set the rules for the new industry.

Critical breed theory

Ohio House Republicans introduced two bills explaining how “concepts of division” such as slavery and racism should be taught in the classroom.

House Bills 322 and 327 have been the subject of several lengthy and controversial committee hearings.

Neither has spoken for a vote, and their paths appear uncertain in the Ohio Senate. President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told reporters the best people to deal with the problem were the State Board of Education and local school districts.

The issue, however, had real consequences for two appointed members of the National Board of Education.

DeWine has called on board chair Laura Kohler and board member Eric Poklar to step down after voting against repealing an anti-racist resolution passed by the board in July 2020.

Tax cuts

When lawmakers passed the state budget in June, they included a 3% income tax cut.

They also increased the minimum amount a person can earn before being taxed to $ 25,000 and eliminated the top tax bracket for wealthy residents.

In total, the two-year budget tax cuts were $ 1.64 billion.

high-speed Internet

After years of talking about the need for high speed internet, Ohio has finally committed a significant amount of money to the project.

DeWine’s office created a broadband grant program and funded it with a “down payment” of $ 250 million.

It also appears that the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress could provide more than $ 1 billion in support for Ohio broadband projects. And this is in addition to the money allocated as part of the US bailout.

Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. It serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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