GSG Welcomes Leadership of the 135th Ohio General Assembly

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. 
Updated 11/30/2022 following the announcement of House Minority Leadership.

Copyright 2021 | Government Strategies LLC

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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022