Fourth of July celebrations are taking place throughout the state but Ohio lawmakers are likely not finding this summer holiday to be carefree. That's because Gov. John Kasich vetoed 47 items when he signed the budget Friday. One of those is the controversial plan to freeze the Medicaid expansion program in Ohio in July of next year. Some former state lawmakers say they know what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of legislators who can’t get work off their minds.
There are dates set aside on the legislative calendar later this week and next so lawmakers could, if they elect, come back into session to override Gov. John Kasich’s vetoes. Many legislators, like other Ohioans, are spending time cooking out or being part of community events. But former state lawmaker Gene Krebs says he remembers when it took a long time to do some of the most basic things.
“My wife knew sending me into the grocery store was a 2 1/2 hour grueling experience as I got stopped three times in every aisle.”
He says his experience wasn’t unique.
“Your state legislators live right in the middle of the rest of us and so they are always encountering Bobby and Betty Buckeye at the grocery store, at the gas station and Bobby and Betty Buckeye have no hesitation about telling their legislator helpful things for them to remember.”
Former State Representative and current Columbus City Council member Mike Stinziano is also the son of a former state legislator. And he agrees holiday cookouts are different for lawmakers.
“You are definitely not going to enjoy that hotdog without hearing from somebody. There’s always going to be an opportunity that people are excited to see at the event and definitely will share their concern or support for any provision.”
Krebs says that’s why some lawmakers want a little private time to themselves and their families over the holiday. But he says that doesn’t mean it is totally off limits in a case like this where overriding vetoes is an issue.
“Many members will have already assumed that right after the budget, they can go on vacation. So they may already have airline tickets purchased or cabins in the mountains rented or down on the beach and so they may have to leave there or come back from there.”
Stinziano says he has personal experience with that.
“I had the unfortunate experience of having to fly back from vacation to be there for an important piece of legislation that I was managing. I didn’t necessarily need to be there. The votes were there but it was too important for the district that I had to wake up very early and take a red eye back to make sure that I was there.”
Stinziano says his legislation was not a veto vote like lawmakers are considering right now. He suspects lawmakers are talking to each other during this holiday week.
“There’s absolutely some horse trading going on. Some votes are being measured against what’s going to be best for their district or commitment to help move other important legislation down the road.”
There is a full House and Senate session scheduled for next week, on July 12th. The session is designated as “if needed.” Legislative leaders say if vetoes are going to occur, they’d like to do them by the 12th because after that, the general assembly will be taking a break until September. And they say they’d like to have the budget wrapped up before taking that break.