ohio legislative udpate

Insights & Analysis

Last updated on:
September 30, 2021


The Ohio Legislature is back in action after summer recess and started hearings and session after Labor Day. At the forefront of the General Assembly agenda is redistricting. Already, a lawsuit has been filed arguing the maps violate provisions in the Ohio Constitution against being drawn to favor or disfavor a political party. Provisions in the budget are now underway and the legislature will work to pass more bills before the end of the year. Looking forward we will start to plan for the 2022 mid-biennium budget review and Capital Budget, which funds bricks and mortar projects in the state. If you have a project that may qualify for the Capital Budget, please let G2G know so we can review.


The House Health Committee quickly passed House Bill 435, sponsored by Reps. Rick Carfagna (R- Genoa Twp.) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), just one day after its introduction. While it was scheduled to be on the House floor the same day, the House opted to re-refer the bill to Rules and Reference Committee to renegotiate the bills’ contents before it heads to the House floor. The legislation would establish exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The bill generally applies to public and private employers, including schools, colleges, and universities, barring any mandate for a vaccine that does not have a biologics license from the FDA. If an employer, school, or institution wants to institute a vaccine requirement for existing employees, they must honor exemptions for medical contraindications; natural immunity as demonstrated by the presence of antibodies in an amount at least equal to that conferred by vaccination; and reasons of conscience including religious convictions. All the exemptions require documentation, although the documentation for the conscience objection must simply state in writing the intent to claim it, with employers barred from requiring any further evidence. The bill will likely move through the Senate quickly, as well.


The Broadband Expansion Program Authority’s members opened applications for companies seeking part of the $250 million in broadband grants funded through the recent state budget bill. The deadline to apply for the program is November 8th. Eligible projects would provide areas that lack service with up to 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed. The authority was created under HB2, which was rolled into the state operating budget, and will distribute $250 million to close the funding gap between a project’s actual cost and what it needs to turn a profit, assisting with infrastructure expenses. The funding is meant to make it economically possible for nonprofits, local governments, and private businesses to provide Internet service in unserved and underserved areas.


On a straight party line vote, the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new House and Senate maps. Because no Democrats voted in favor of the maps, they will only last four years. As expected, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and other groups immediately filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the new General Assembly maps, arguing the maps violate provisions in the Ohio Constitution against maps being drawn to favor or disfavor a political party as well as requiring seats be drawn to correspond with the statewide preferences of voters over the previous decade. The new changes would reduce the number of Republican-leaning seats collectively in both chambers by six from the working plans, with Republicans having 62 of the 99 House seats and 23 of the 33 seats in the Senate. The vote does not end the work of the commission, which will return in October to attempt to draw new congressional district lines. The commission has until September 30th to come up with a bipartisan congressional map, a deadline they will miss. Since they will miss this deadline, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will have until Sunday, October 31 to adopt a congressional map. If the commission also misses that deadline, the General Assembly will have until Tuesday, November 30 to adopt a map by a simple majority that would last four years.

Last updated on:
August 30, 2021


The Ohio Legislature was in recess for most of the summer with no session or committee meetings. As the Delta variant soars, controversy over vaccination requirements has brought the usually quiet Statehouse back in action for a rare August committee meeting. Legislators are also keeping busy as the state begins to discuss redrawing district maps for the 2022 elections with the commission setting ten public hearings this fall. The legislature is expected to return after Labor Day in what will be a busy end of 2021.


On August 24, the House Health Committee met for the first time in over two months to hear Substitute House Bill 248 (Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act), introduced by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), which would prohibit mandatory vaccinations, vaccination status disclosures, and related actions. The bill would apply to employers, schools, health care providers and any others and the hearing drew hundreds of supporters, who demonstrated outside and packed inside the atrium and halls of the Statehouse. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, led by former Congressman Steve Stivers, as well as Secretary of State Frank LaRose stand in opposition to the bill because it would interfere with the ability of employers to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and customers. Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and House leadership are pausing any further action after this week’s hearings and won’t allow amendments or votes at this time, but will work with the chairman, the bill’s sponsor, and interested parties on the issue – all while Ohio reported more than 4,000 new daily coronavirus cases and about 51% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of last week.

Another change impacting health is Governor DeWine’s appointment of Ohio’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, to be the new Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Current ODH Director Stephanie McCloud will return to her previous position as administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC).


In early July, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Superintendent Paolo DeMaria plans to retire in September and Deputy Superintendent John Richard also plans to retire in October. The interim appointment of Stephanie Siddens, who serves as Senior Executive Director of the Center for Student Supports at ODE, was approved this week. The Department seeks to fill the Superintendent position permanently by the end of 2021.


Ohio held a Special Congressional Primary Election on August 2 to fill the vacated seats in the 11th district that includes Cleveland and Akron, formerly held by now HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and the 15th district that includes the Columbus area, formerly held by now Ohio Chamber of Congress President Steve Stivers. The Special Congressional General Election will be on Tuesday, November 2. It will decide if primary winners Shontel Brown (D) (who beat liberal Senator Bernie Sanders-endorsed Nina Turner) or Laverne Gore (R) will hold the 11th district seat (with Brown expected to win) and if State Reps. Allison Russo (D) or Mike Carey (R) (who has former President Trump’s endorsement and beat a dozen candidates, many more moderate Republicans) will hold the 15th district seat (with Carey expected to win).

In other election news, the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is made up of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State and four representatives from the Ohio House and Senate, will hold 10 regional public hearings around the state as they prepare to draw new legislative and congressional district maps that go into effect with the 2022 election.

More details can be found here.

Last updated on:
July 21, 2021


Given just hours to review after Statehouse passage, Governor DeWine signed his second State Operating Budget on July 1, 2021. Final debates and negotiations of the two-year budget focused heavily on funding for broadband expansion, the school funding formula, and tax cuts. The final law includes earmarks as well as 14 vetoes. The legislature is in recess throughout July and August and will return after Labor Day. See updates below on the budget, tax credits, health and aerospace.


FY22-23 Operating Budget Overview

Given just hours to review after Statehouse passage, Governor DeWine signed his second State Operating Budget on July 1, 2021. Final debates and negotiations of the two-year budget focused heavily on funding for broadband expansion, the school funding formula, and tax cuts. The final law includes earmarks as well as 14 vetoes. The legislature is in recess throughout July and August and will return after Labor Day. See updates below on the budget, tax credits, health and aerospace.

Governor DeWine vetoed 14 items, which is a relatively low number. Most of the vetoes did not address the more controversial provisions of the budget. Among the vetoes was the removal of Medicaid rates from the Revised Code. However, the increased rates for the PASSPORT, Ohio Home Care, adult day care, MyCare Ohio, assisted living waiver program for specified services and waiver programs administered by Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) will be implemented.

Another more controversial provision in the budget, removed at the request of Attorney General Dave Yost, would have permitted members of the General Assembly to intervene in lawsuits undertaken by the Executive Branch. Governor DeWine also vetoed a provision that vacates orders addressing the compliance of liquor-permitted businesses with COVID-19 health orders, ends disciplinary actions, and refunds fines stating it sends the message that those responsible business owners are not valued as much as the few businesses who failed to take steps to protect their employees and customers.

Budget Breakdown

  • School Funding — The final version of the budget bill largely incorporates a House education plan that was designed to significantly boost funding and make Ohio’s system of funding schools fairer by targeting poorer areas. However, it does compromise by incorporating Senate changes that boost vouchers for private schools. The new school funding formula ends the existing system of artificially funding and capping funding for certain districts. The result is a $226 million increase for K-12 education in 2022, and another $141 million increase in 2023.
  • Taxes — The budget reduces the number of state income-tax brackets to four by eliminating the state’s top tax bracket. Six years ago, Ohio had nine brackets. It also makes changes to the tax rate of the state’s new highest tax bracket, applicable to people making more than $110,650 in 2021 to 3.99%. Additionally, the minimum amount Ohioans must earn before owing state income taxes was raised from $22,150 to $25,000.
  • Broadband — The bill provides $250 million to expand broadband networks in underserved areas, which was the amount proposed in DeWine’s Executive Budget. The House initially proposed $190 million, and the Senate removed the grant funding altogether. The budget conference committee removed a Senate proposal that would have effectively banned municipalities from operating their own broadband programs. Broadband expansion is a priority for G2G and we are monitoring the implementation of affordable broadband access closely. (This funding is in addition to the $20 million broadband bill enacted on May 17, but this funding is far below the estimated $2.3 billion needed to cover the state's under serviced areas.)
  • SNAP — The final budget bill eliminates controversial language that was included in the Senate version of the bill. It would have required asset tests for food stamp recipients and cut off SNAP benefits for households with $2,250 or more in savings. It also would have required recipients to report every change in income worth more than $500, such as extra work shifts or getting odd jobs.

Other Provisions:

  • Would allow college athletes to seek endorsements and otherwise profit off their name, image and likeness.
  • Creates Juneteenth as a state holiday in Ohio on June 19, in response to President Joe Biden making the day a federal holiday this year.
  • Specifies that personal information about people who have applied to participate in DeWine’s Vax-A-Million sweepstakes is not a public record.
  • Allows employers to discipline or fire workers who use medical marijuana in violation of workplace policy without violating the Ohio Civil Rights Law.
  • Offers Lorain, East Cleveland, and Youngstown city schools a way to no longer be under the control of a state “academic distress commission.”
  • Prohibits the Ohio secretary of state and other elections officials from accepting money from private groups such as Facebook, which offered state and local elections officials millions in grant money during last year’s election.

More On Tax Changes in The Budget

The state operating budget made numerous additions or changes to the lineup of tax expenditures. Among them are the following:

  • Increasing from $1 million to $2 million the limit on opportunity zone investment tax credits awarded to an individual during a biennium.
  • Creating a new income tax deduction for capital gains received by investors in certain Ohio-based venture capital operating companies, which must have at least $50 million in assets and at least two-thirds of its managing and general partners be Ohioans. This provision should result in more venture capital formation in the state which would be a huge win for industries like biosciences. If you would like more information on this tax deduction, please let G2G know.
  • Creating a $250 income tax credit for home schooling materials and a $750 credit for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to K-12 students and prioritize awards to low-income students.
  • Creating a tax credit for private school tuition of $500 for households earning below $50,000 and $1,000 for households earning below $100,000.
  • Allowing any business receiving the job creation tax credit to include work-from-home employees in payroll reporting, rather than just businesses applying for the credit after September of 2017.
  • Making permanent the temporary exemption from the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) for BWC dividends.
  • Creating new tax incentives for “mega projects” involving more than $1 billion in investment and creation of more than $75M in payroll.
  • Extending the life of the existing insurance premium tax credit for “transformational mixed-use development” projects through FY25

Bureau of Worker’s Compensation

The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation has its own $2.2 billion appropriations bill which this year includes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for townships, water/sewer infrastructure and pediatric behavioral health services. Additionally, with the passage of HB168 the state of Ohio can officially begin using ARPA funds to repay the approximately $1.5 billion it borrowed from the federal government to cover unemployment compensation costs during the pandemic. HB168 also:

  • Invests $250 million to establish a water and sewer quality program administered by the Ohio Department of Development. The program will provide grants to identify and invest in Ohio's most critical infrastructure needs.
  • Sends $422 million to townships, which did not receive direct funding from ARPA to support pandemic recovery efforts. G2G is watching ARPA funding for Ohio’s major cities and counties as they decide how to appropriate such funds as well as township funding that may be available to nonprofits or other entities.
  • Invests $84 million in a pediatric behavioral health initiative administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funding aims to increase Ohio's capacity for youth behavioral health services and improve quality of care across all regions of the state.


Crawley Selected for Open Franklin County Commission Seat

Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) was selected to fill a vacant seat on the Franklin County Commission, but when she will take the seat is unknown. Crawley defeated Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown by a 63-54 vote of the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee. The seat became available when long-time commissioner Marilyn Brown resigned her seat after 14 years for family reasons. Crawley is in her second term in the Ohio House. She is currently the Ranking Member on the House Finance Committee. It is unknown when her replacement will be appointed.

Householder Expelled

The House voted 75-21 to expel former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), determining his actions in the scandal around HB6, the nuclear energy bail out, amounted to “disorderly conduct” warranting removal under constitutional procedures. Householder argued the move was in fact unconstitutional and disrespectful to the voters who re-elected him knowing of the charges. Supporters of the expulsion resolution said Householder’s conduct in developing and moving the controversial energy law was unethical and stained the reputation of the chamber. It was the first time that an Ohio lawmaker had been expelled since 1857, when Representative John P. Slough was removed for punching another member of the Legislature. House Republicans picked Ohio State Highway Patrol staff Lt. Kevin Miller to replace Householder. Miller, of Franklin Township in southeastern Licking County, was selected from among 19 applicants, including Householder's son, Perry County Commissioner Derek Householder. Miller was sworn to represent the 72nd House District, which includes Coshocton County, Perry County and portions of Licking County.


Nursing Facility Constitutional Amendment

Attorney General Dave Yost certified a revised petition for a proposed constitutional amendment known as the "Nursing Facility Patients' Bill of Rights." Also known as Carolyn's Law, the proposal would require the Ohio Department of Health to establish a number of regulations regarding health facilities, including requirements setting a minimum of nurses/certified nursing assistant staff ratio to patients at nursing, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation facilities.

The amendment would also set an average number of hours of direct care by nursing and nursing assistant staff to patients. It would require the imposition of civil and criminal penalties for facilities, employees, or agents of nursing facilities for noncompliance with the amendment and related laws, including fines, additional education or training, temporary or permanent suspension of a license or certification, termination from employment, and reporting of the conduct to regulatory entities and law enforcement.

The petition will now head to the Ohio Ballot Board, which must determine if it contains a single or multiple laws. If certified by the board, backers of the proposed amendment would need to collect 442,958 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters for the issue to go on the ballot.


Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC)

Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) is seeking removal of a requirement that the position of chair of OAATC rotate between the House and Senate at the start of a new general assembly so he can return to being chair. Holmes became chair in 2020, succeeding Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) a year before he was term-limited at the end of the 133rd General Assembly.

Commissions and committees, like the new House Technology and Innovation standing committee, are working collaboratively to build a true Ohio strategy on aerospace. JobsOhio has grown in regard to Ohio’s aerospace industry and its military and federal installations, and the state operating budget added funding for airport infrastructure in addition to federal pandemic relief. Rep. Holmes is working to ensure the federal money is distributed to support Ohio’s general and commercial aviation industry and Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) operations.

The committee is interested is ensuring Ohio secures a lead role in the development of advanced air mobility technology. The state already benefits from work being done in the Springfield area on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) also known as drones, particularly beyond-line-of-sight testing. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has emerged as a governmental center of excellence on drone technology through its FlyOhio initiative, which operates the Springfield UAS Center. Meanwhile in northeast Ohio, the Aerozone Alliance is taken on greater drone and aerospace activities tied to the Hopkins airport renovation efforts.

The next step will be establishing an air traffic management system for UAS flight in Ohio and building the required infrastructure to support it. Reps. Holmes and Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) are working on legislation for this. The air traffic management system is one of the most critical areas to address, and so the forthcoming bill on that subject is one of the biggest targets for the OAATC. In addition to passenger transport UAS technology will also be used for mail delivery and photography. Other members of the OAATC include Reps. Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) and Sens. Bob Hackett (R-London), Frank Hoagland (R-Adena) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).