House, Senate Sessions Go Late While Passing Dozens Of Bills

May 26, 2016

The Ohio House and Senate took on a jam-packed slate of bills for their last day of lawmaking before leaving for summer break. 

The familiar bang of the gavel could be heard throughout the day inside the House and Senate chambers as the General Assembly cranked through about 50 pieces of legislation.

To put that into perspective, the House and Senate usually see about five to eight bills on a typical day in session.

And while medical marijuana was the blockbuster issue looming over the Statehouse, the Legislature had plenty of other big measures on its plate.

That includes renaming the Port Columbus International Airport after trailblazing astronaut and former Democratic U.S. Senator John Glenn. The measure was so prominent that Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger delivered a rare floor speech.

“From combat missions over Korea to orbiting this great Earth to the halls of Congress to again launching off into space as a senior citizen -- has done great things and great strides for our country and our state to represent it and I cannot think of anyone else that’s more befitting of the honor of having Port Columbus International Airport renamed John Glenn Columbus International Airport,” said Rosenberger.

The provision passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Statehouse in the Senate chambers was a bill to allow wine to be sold and sampled at farmers markets. Republican Senator Gayle Manning of Lorain County says this can have several benefits.

“This is also going to create additional part time jobs at wineries and they’re going to be able to hire and they’re going to be able to help grow the tourism in your different districts,” said Manning.

That wasn’t the only alcohol-related bill passed during the busy day. The Senate approved measures that loosen the restrictions on winery farms and distilleries so they can sell and sample their product on location.

There were some controversial bills as well, such as the legislation that overrides local laws that regulate where stores such as Petland can get the puppies they sell.

The Senate also passed the contentious fetal disposal bill. This requires the remains from abortions to either be buried or cremated. Leader of the Senate Democrats, Joe Schiavoni, said this is an excessive burden on women.

“And so no it may not legally restrict a woman’s right to abortion but it shames her after she’s already made that decision into making another decision and for me that is something that we should not be legislating,” Schiavoni said.

The issue came into the spotlight after Attorney General Mike DeWine accused Planned Parenthood’s disposal contractors of placing fetal remains in landfills. Republican Senator Bill Coley fears that could leave a lasting legacy for archaeologists generations from now.

“I don’t want it to be where in like South America or some areas in the world and they find that babies were sacrificed or were thrown out with the garbage and things like that,” said Coley.

The measure passed along party lines.

Back across the Statehouse Rotunda in the House where session was also going well into the evening, the representatives passed a few more bills including one that could improve open records laws. Republican Representative Tim Brown of Bowling Green said the bill will expedite a records request process in hopes of avoiding the court system.

“The current method of resolving records dispute is not very accessible to the average Ohioan. It can be costly and take years to resolve.”

The House and Senate now go on summer break. But there are still many bills left up in the air and they might not be addressed until lame duck, which is after the November elections. That includes issues such as the two year freeze on green energy standards for utilities, unemployment compensation and that so-called Petland bill that still needs to go through the House.