Every two years there are more than a thousand bills introduced in the Statehouse that never get enough support to pass the House and Senate and are left to die at the end of the session. But this was the year many of those controversial bills actually passed. There are still plenty of bills left on the cutting room floor.
The Legislature passed several headline-making bills related to abortion, yet there were still other bills that never made it out of the Statehouse this year. They include the bill to change the way fetal remains are handled in Ohio. House Republicans introduced the legislation that would require a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to fill out a form designating how she would like the fetal remains to be disposed of. Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) was a sponsor of the bill: “Whether they’re selling body parts or simply tossing them into landfills doesn’t matter to me anymore. As a legislator I can no longer standby and trust what Planned Parenthood does with the body of aborted babies,” Koehler said. The bill was based off an anti-Planned Parenthood video accusing the group of improperly disposing of remains. But that video ended up being bogus.
Also failing to pass out of both chambers was the bill to strengthen Ohio’s vicious dogs law, which would hold owners accountable for the actions of their pets.
And an effort to create more accountability for online charter schools went nowhere after a few hearings in the Senate Finance Committee. The bill would make sure e-school students were putting in a full-day’s work. Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said this is a serious problem that goes beyond wasteful spending. “We hear it all the time from schools that say their children leave brick and mortar schools, they go to an online school and come back a year or two later and haven’t made any academic progress at all and I think it’s very important that we look at and make sure that isn’t happening,” Lehner said. Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) was accused of stalling the bill by putting it in Senate Finance rather than Lehner’s education committee. But he said since it related to state funding of e-schools, it was properly placed.
One of Gov. John Kasich’s major goals since taking office has been to raise the severance tax on oil and gas drillers. However, another General Assembly has passed without the House or Senate acting on that issue. Faber suggested that the Legislature create a system that increases the tax on oil and gas production that triggers when market conditions improve. “The same reason everybody talks about the time to do redistricting is before anybody’s on the ballot under the new maps it may be time to talk about that tax reform before anybody thinks it’s going to apply.” But the so-called fracking tax never moved.
There were several other news-making bills that got held up – for instance, the bill to ban companies from making realistic, fake guns; the bill to allow religious leaders the ability to refuse to perform same sex weddings; and the bill to stem drug abuse by increasing the use of tamper proof pills.
But the very last bill to get right up to the finish line before getting cut by the Senate right before session ended was a House bill to allow civil protection orders for those in dating relationships.
This was a top issue for outgoing Rep. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati). So Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger let Kuhns take the gavel when the bill passed, to the applause of the chamber. While the bill was approved in the House in the early morning hours, the Senate decided not to consider it before adjourning.
Bills that were proposed and didn’t pass in the last two years are officially dead. But as is often the case, many will return at the beginning of the next session in January. But that’s also when Kasich plans to roll out his budget plan, which usually overshadows other legislative initiatives for the first six months of the year.