Payday Loan Reform, Guns Among Stalled Issues At Ohio Statehouse

Jul 5, 2018

The Ohio General Assembly is on summer break after a flurry of activity that included passage of dozens of bills, many sent to the governor, and a few key proposals left in limbo.

The pace of the action was accelerated because a stalemate over who would succeed Republican Cliff Rosenberger as speaker in the House prevented it from passing any bills for weeks.

Here is a look at where things stand:

From A To V

On their final day, June 27, lawmakers sent 19 bills to Republican Gov. John Kasich addressing topics from algal blooms to voting machines.

A spending measure sent to the governor allots $20 million to the soils and water phosphorus program that helps fight harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Another $3.5 million was devoted to soil and water conservation districts. Lawmakers also sent $7 million in disaster funding to 18 counties affected by flooding.

Another bill releases the $114.5 million necessary to help county boards of elections buy new voting equipment. The timing was crucial to get the machines in place in time for a test run in 2019 ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted had called on Kasich and state lawmakers in December to provide state financial support to modernize the machines.

Another bill expands the list of offenses that can be expunged from the criminal records of people who also are victims of human trafficking.

Senate Pass On Payday

Perhaps the most significant legislation left unresolved as lawmakers headed off for summer break was a bill reforming Ohio's payday lending laws. The legislation would cap interest rates on short-term loans and impose other restrictions.

The Ohio House wasted no time passing the measure after the chamber resolved a complicated and protracted impasse over who should succeed the former House speaker, Republican Cliff Rosenberger. The House's action came after Rosenberger resigned in April amid an FBI investigation that includes international trips the then-speaker took where payday lobbyists also were present.

But the Senate failed to complete its work on the bill before the break. Senate President Larry Obhof said it was significant legislation that needed more time. He has called senators back in September, if not sooner.

House Holds On Guns

A "Stand Your Ground" proposal also failed to clear the Legislature. The measure would shift the burden onto prosecutors to prove that shooters claiming self-defense didn't act to defend themselves.

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, had said he would veto the bill, which could have looked bad for fellow Republicans as they visited fairs and campaign stops this summer.

Kasich is pushing the opposite direction with gun laws. He's seeking what he casts as a package of "common sense" changes that emerged from a bipartisan advisory group. They include revisions to Ohio gun and background-check laws, as well as a "red flag" law to allow gun rights to be temporarily stripped from people who show warning signs of violence.

Bills containing those changes also have stalled, despite a recent call for urgency from groups representing students, teachers, school counselors, police chiefs, pediatricians and Catholic clergy.

Also holding in the House are bills that would change Ohio's unemployment compensation system and bring the state's education agencies together under one massive agency over K-12 schools, higher education and workforce development.