(LFC Comments: Here is an article that “pulls back the curtain” on Ohio State Senators. They are ready to take their “summer break” until November without completing their work for the citizens of Ohio. Their lack of concern for the average citizens is appalling. We are working on an article revealing the compensation of these “public servants”. Stay tuned.)
COLUMBUS, OHIO – With just one week before the General Assembly breaks until November, the fate of key Coronavirus bills is undecided.
Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder addressed members of the “gaggle” (his term for the presser following Republican caucus) about a piece of Coronavirus legislation that is currently in the Ohio Senate, saying “I don’t think we can get the bill through the senate.” Another representative asked: “why?” Householder grinned and contemplated. Meanwhile, another representative said: “Obhof wants to be judge.”
Senator Larry Obhof is the Senate President. An Ohio Senator who wished to remain anonymous said rumors are swirling that Senator Obhof is working to stay in the good graces of Governor Mike DeWine to gain an appointment to an appellate court or a state appellate court. (Note: the senator is anonymous to our readers, not this reporter. His identity was withheld for protection.)
True or not, that is the perception. “It is a term limit problem. It is one of the unseen problems that the average person out on the street, that is not involved in the statehouse, does not see because no one would ever think that, right? But it is an obvious problem,” said Householder.
There may be several reasons why legislation roosts in the senate without progress: term limits, the belief that “yay” votes will not meet the 60% threshold that would override a Governor DeWine veto—which is what the Governor pledged for any bill that hits his desk with the intent to limit the power of Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.
Whatever the reason for senate inaction, three key bills remain in the chamber.
Senate Bill 1 (SB1) limits the health emergency power of the Director of Health to 14 days. After 14 days any extension of emergency power would need to be approved by an Ohio House and Senate rules committee—Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The members of JCARR can be found here.
Senate Bill 55 (SB55) amends penalties for violating any one of the Director Acton orders. Penalties for violations include a $750 fine and 90 days in jail. SB 55 seeks to eliminate the criminal element—taking away the jail time along with the criminal charge on a personal record; the bill also seeks to reduce the fine for a first offense.
Senate Bill 31 (SB 31) seeks to prohibit requiring or using punitive measures to force, someone to submit to contact tracing. It passed the House floor on Thursday, June 5 with a 54-39 vote.
Senate Bill 1 received a committee assignment last week after the Senate, upon receiving the bill from the house, rejected the house amendments with a unanimous vote 32-0. The assignment came more than two weeks after the bill was sent back from the house.
“It seems like bills have been there a while, especially Senate Bill 1. I don’t know where anyone stands on that bill. It would be nice to have a voice vote, straw poll—something that would tell us where each member of the senate stands,” Said Tara Calderaro, a small business owner in Cincinnati.
Senate Bill 1 is the frontrunner for consideration and action. The bill must make it out of the assigned conference committee if it is to receive a vote on the Senate floor. Senators Kristina Roegner, Kirk Schuring, and Nickie Antoni along with Representatives Scott Wiggam, Bill Seitz, and Brigid Kelly are conference committee appointees.
Whether the bill is handled swiftly in the conference committee and taken up to vote will likely be decided by the conference committee chairman Senator Kirk Schuring. In addition to being the committee chair, Schuring will likely be the swing vote to decide whether the bill makes it out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote.
Ohio is entering the 12th week of Coronavirus restrictions. The Ohio Department of Health traced the first case of COVID-19 to January 2. Over the 160 days since the virus has been recorded in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health claims 2,155 Coronavirus deaths have occurred. Non-COVID deaths in Ohio in 2020 total 44,735, influenza accounting for 2,238 of those deaths.
The median age of death from COVID-19 is 81. The average life expectancy in Ohio is 77.5.
“We’ve got 26% unemployment in this state. The highest nationally we’ve ever had is 24%, and that was during the Great Depression,” said Householder. His projection is that the Ohio unemployment fund will be insolvent by July 25, 2020. Currently, it is estimated that more than 600,000 Ohioans, of the more than one million unemployed, have yet to receive their unemployment compensation.
A listing of the 33 senators in the 133rd Ohio General Assembly can be found here.