Legislative Session Review: Ohio

By Nathan Devers | January 11, 2019

OH Leg Session

Ohio has a full-time legislature whose 2018 session ran from January 2 through December 31, 2018. This was Governor John Kasich’s (R) last session due to term limits. Ohio’s 2019 legislature is scheduled to be in session from January 7 through December 31, 2019.

Legislative Highlights

  • The Ohio General Assembly held a late December session to override bills that Kasich vetoed. Lawmakers overrode a veto on legislation (OH HB 228) that will shift the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the shooter to prosecutors. It also expands gun access in government subsidized housing and for off-duty police.
  • Kasich also signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans. The new law (OH SB 145) bans a second-trimester abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation. The bills also penalizes doctors who perform the procedure with up to 18 months in prison.
  • Lawmakers originally passed a bill known as the “heartbeat bill” in early December. The bill (OH HB 258) would have banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected. However, Kasich vetoed the bill and and the General Assembly was unable to override his veto. The House had the votes, but it fell one vote shy in the Senate. Lawmakers say they will attempt to pass it again in 2019.
  • In regards to education, Kasich signed legislation (OH HB 491) into law that eases graduation requirements for the high school graduating classes of 2019 and 2020. The bill is an effort to ensure students don’t fail to graduate because of low standardized test scores.
  • The governor also signed a bill (OH HB 58) that will require students to learn how to write in cursive. The new law mandates that new instructional material must be added to the curriculum by July 1. 
  • Kasich signed into law a bill (OH SB 223) that prohibits the installation of unsafe used tires on certain motor vehicles. The bill makes it illegal to sell tires for road use that have less than 1/16-inch tread depth, have damage that exposes steel belts and other internal components, have improper repairs, or have bulges that could indicate internal damage. Violators face a fine up to $1,000 for each offense.
  • Big changes are coming for payday loans in Ohio after lawmakers passed a new law (OH HB 123) that promises to save Ohio consumers millions in payday loan interest rates and fees. The governor signed the bill after it languished in committee for over a year. The bill contains numerous changes and prohibitions affecting the industry.  

Election Results

Ohio continues to be a single-party government. Ohio voters went to the voting booths on November 6, 2018 and chose to maintain the Republicans supermajority in both the Senate and the House. The Republican Party in the Senate will control 24 seats compared to the Democratic Party’s nine, and the Republican Party in the House will control 61 seats compared to the Democratic Party’s 38. Ohioans also again elected a Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who previously served as Ohio’s attorney general.

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