As the legislature prepares for the end of its session, members of the House and Senate elected their 2023-2024 leadership teams for the 135th Ohio General Assembly.
In the Ohio Senate, Senate President Matt Huffman (R- Lima) will retain his position as the chamber’s top leader for the remainder of his current term through the end of 2024. Senator Kirk Schuring (R- Canton), currently the Majority Floor Leader, will serve as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Senator Rob McColley (R- Napoleon), currently the Majority Whip, will assume the role as Majority Floor Leader. Senator Theresa Gavarone (R- Bowling Green) will serve as Majority Whip.
Senate Minority leadership will consist of Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D- Lakewood), Assistant Minority Leader Hearcel Craig (D- Columbus), Minority Whip Kent Smith (D- Euclid) and Assistant Minority Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D- Toledo).
The House of Representatives will have an entirely new Republican Leadership team with Representative Derek Merrin (R- Monclova Township) serving as Speaker of the House. Representative Phil Plummer (R- Dayton) will serve as Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative Scott Wiggam (R- Wayne County) will serve as Majority Floor Leader, Representative Susan Manchester (R- Waynesfield) will serve as the Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Representative Brian Baldridge (R- Winchester) will be Majority Whip and Representative Brian Stewart (R- Ashville) will assume the role of Assistant Majority Whip.
As we welcome the new members of House Majority Leadership for the coming General Assembly, we would like to express our gratitude to our hometown Representatives Bill Seitz and Cindy Abrams for their outstanding leadership and tireless service in the 134th General Assembly.
The House Democratic Caucus re-elected Representative Allison Russo (D- Upper Arlington) as Minority Leader. Representative Dontavius Jarrells (D- Columbus) will join her in leadership as the Assistant Minority Leader. Hamilton County’s Representative Jessica Miranda (D- Forest Park) will remain Minority Whip, and Representative Tavia Galonski (D- Akron) is the new Assistant Minority Whip.
Aside from electing leadership for next term, the legislature has kept busy in the “lame duck” session between now and end of the year before the current General Assembly session ends. Bills that received hearings in committee in either chamber include:
Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the Ohio Senate passed:
- SB 33 (Hottinger) to allow Ohioans to claim a state income tax deduction for contributions to 529 college savings plans offered by any state, not just Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage program.
- SB 300 (Wilson), which allows all notaries to offer e-notarization.
- SB 338 (Lang), which changes assessments for environmental health specialists who do inspections of restaurants and retail food establishments.
The Ohio House passed:
- HB 282 (Abrams-Lampton) to make distracted driving a primary offense, joining Ohio with 47 other states that have enacted distracted driving laws. The legislation does not include a hand-held ban.
- HB 403 (Fowler Arthur-A. Miller), legislation that would require school districts file a report with the Ohio Department of Education regarding a teacher who retired under threat of disciplinary investigation.
- HB 150 (Hillyer), establishing the Rural Practice Incentive Program and a task force to study Ohio’s indigent defense system; and HB 419 (Troy-Seitz) to increase the penalty for failure to report adult abuse.
- HB 433 (Gross) enacting the Provider of Boutique Services Opportunity Act.
- HB 349 (Hillyer-Galonski), to make changes to the law regarding involuntary treatment for mentally ill persons subject to a court order.
- HB 389 (Seitz-Leland), an energy efficiency bill, was informally passed.
Committees will be very active this week in the General Assembly. Some notable pieces of legislation to be heard include:
- HB 554, Temporary Educator Licenses (Bird, Lightbody): Bipartisan bill to issue temporary educator licenses to applicants with expired professional teacher’s certification and professional educator licenses.
- HB 151, Teacher Residency Program/Trans Athlete Ban (Jones): Bill makes a number of changes relative to the Ohio Teacher Residency Program. The Save Women’s Sports Act was amended into this legislation in the House in June and has not yet been heard in the Senate.
- SB 357, Gun Safety/Mental Health Treatment (Dolan): Senator Dolan introduced a substitute version prior to Thanksgiving, saying the sub bill is about reducing the threat of gun violence while maintaining Second Amendment rights by focusing on happens before a person is able to buy a gun.
- HB 497, Eliminate Retention Under Third Grade Reading Guarantee (Manning G, Robinson P): Bill would eliminate the existing third grade reading guarantee.
- SB 131, Licensure Reciprocity (Roegner K, McColley R): Bill would require an occupational licensing authority to issue a license or government certification to an applicant who holds a license, government certification, or private certification or has satisfactory work experience in another state under certain circumstances.
- HB 560, Tax Credit for Affordable Rental Housing (HOOPS J, PAVLIGA G): Bill would authorize a nonrefundable tax credit for the construction or rehabilitation of affordable rental housing.
- HB 294, Ohio Election Security, Modernization Act: Bill would modify the law governing absent voting, to make other changes to the Election Law, and to make an appropriation.