Ohio General Assembly and Statehouse Overview
Courtesy of Bitonte Group LLC
Friday, Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) announced assignments for a reconfigured committee structure for the 131st General Assembly. Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton) retains his position as chair of Senate Finance, overseeing now five subcommittees of that group. Vice chairs of those subcommittees are all Democrats. Separate insurance and Medicaid committees have been created, while Rules and Reference are now combined into one body.
The Ohio Statehouse will celebrate Black History Month throughout February with a special display, free historical performances each Tuesday at noon, special tours of the George Washington Williams Room and a soul food menu in the café on Thursdays.
Chair Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) welcomed new and returning members during this session's first Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) meeting on Tuesday and introduced new procedural reference tools to help committee members and the public more clearly understand the group's capabilities.
House Republicans introduced priority legislation Wednesday for the 131st General Assembly, with top issues including workforce training grants for in-demand jobs, charter school regulations, reducing business filing fees, changing the statute of limitations for rape when DNA evidence is available, and oil-gas unitization.
Senate Republicans outlined their priorities Wednesday focused on 10 areas, including jobs and opportunity, education deregulation and college affordability, Medicaid sustainability and water quality, among others.
The House opened its Wednesday session with a tribute to prisoners of war and those missing in action, announcing plans to fly the POW/MIA flag in the chamber this General Assembly. The chamber also adopted HCR3, the ethics guidelines for the 131st General Assembly.
The Senate session Wednesday included adoption of joint ethics provisions and rules of the Senate, with a few Democrats voting against SR14 because of a limit on floor amendments in the upper chamber.
Legislative caucus leaders expressed solidarity and resolve for quick action on water-quality issues but sounded familiar disagreements on tax policy Thursday during an annual Associated Press forum previewing the legislative session. Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) said they think they're on the same page with Gov. John Kasich about broad themes of his budget but were looking forward to detailed briefings later Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) on Thursday announced the hiring of Michael Premo as chief of staff for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus. Premo currently serves as campaign manager for Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a statewide group that advocates for state recognition of same-sex marriages. The marriage equality organization concurrently announced that Christopher Geggie has been named its new campaign manager.
Steven Kraus, the man who defeated former state representative and Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern for the 89th House District seat, has drawn more than the usual amount of attention in his rise to the General Assembly. "I think people are tired of the double talk. They want a public servant," Kraus said in an interview with Hannah News.
Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge), daughter of former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, says it was her passion for the nonprofit sector that was a major contributing factor in her decision to run for the Ohio House. She has worked for Adoption Network Cleveland and for nonprofits dedicated to supporting rescue animals and individuals with Parkinson's disease.
Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), who was seated last year after winning the November election for the 42nd House District to succeed the late Rep. Terry Blair (R-Dayton), said it afforded him time to settle in and meet other members of the Ohio House. He also observed he believes every freshman should sit through the farewell speeches, noting the finesse and energy of outgoing legislators, political party aside.
Tim Ginter, the new representative from the 5th House District, said he sees serving in the Legislature as a logical step after three decades in the ministry. "Serving God and serving people, I see those as one and the same."