by Nick Evans, Ohio Capital Journal
January 5, 2023
While Ohio House and Senate lawmakers organize committees and prepare for the coming session, Gov. Mike DeWine is putting the finishing touches on the last one. So far this week, the governor has signed 23 bills into law and vetoed one.
DeWine rejected HB 286, sponsored by Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati. The bill would have allowed legal challenges for certain agency orders to occur in the county where a business or a person resides.
The changes applied to agencies handling liquor control, workers compensation, medicine, chiropractors, nursing, and the casino control commission. Existing law sends those challenges the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, which Seitz criticized in his sponsor testimony.
“While it is true that the current law represents a great convenience for the State’s bureaucrats and lawyers who need only to defend their decisions on their “home turf”,” Seitz argued, “these considerations are counterbalanced by the inconvenience to the Ohio citizens and businesses who must always play “an away game.”
DeWine’s veto message was notably terse. “(HB 286) is very similar to provisions that I vetoed previously,” he wrote. “The language as drafted in HB 286 is simply too broad.”
Those previously vetoed provisions are actually in state law. They come from SB 22 — a measure limiting the governor’s emergency powers and passed by lawmakers despite DeWine’s veto in 2021. Among other changes, it allows people challenging a rule “adopted in response to a state of emergency” to file their case in their home county.
And a change of venue can make an enormous difference in a case. Columbus’ ongoing bid to institute local firearm regulations offers an illustrative example. After a Franklin County judge ruled against a state law blocking local gun provisions, Columbus passed a large capacity magazine ban and a safe storage ordinance. Attorney General Yost went to neighboring Fairfield County — “where roughly 11,000 Columbus residents live” his press release points out — to challenge those laws.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein accused Yost of “judge shopping,” but the AG’s move secured a temporary restraining order.
The final batch of bills arrived on the governor’s desk Dec. 30. Because DeWine has ten days not including holidays and Sundays in which to act, he has until Jan. 12 to make a decision on those proposals, according to his office.
Among the measures still outstanding are bills that institute photo ID requirements for voting and a prohibition on local tobacco ordinances. DeWine has hinted at vetoing the latter. In a separate OCJ story today, the governor’s office said the elections and voter ID bill was received Dec. 29, so they calculate the deadline for action on that to be Jan. 11.
The governor also hasn’t taken action yet on a last minute bill which appropriates $6 billion in federal money. Because it includes spending, DeWine could issue line-item vetoes rather than scrapping the bill as a whole.
Meanwhile, DeWine approved the following bills:
SB 16: Increased penalties for assault or menacing when the victim is a first responder. The measure also gave local governments explicit authorities when dealing with a riot or mob and prohibited any limitations on firearm rights due to a state of emergency.
SB 33: Changed Community Reinvestment Area policy to allow greater deduction to 529 education savings plans.
SB 63: Allowed county probation offices to accept credit card payments. A House amendment added on a new liquor permit for auto-sports facilities.
SB 131: Required the issuance of certain occupational licenses if a person has experience in that field in a different state. It also specifies individuals can’t register as a credit services organization or a fireworks manufacturer.
SB 164: Altered animal cruelty laws and prohibited shelters from using gas chambers to put down pets. It also gives Cuyahoga County the greenlight to convert its tobacco tax to a wholesale tax and institute a new wholesale tax on vapor products.
SB 202: Prohibited restricting parental rights due to the parent’s disability. House amendments gave lawyers credit toward judicial eligibility for out of state practice time and created a bail study task force.
SB 288: Instituted new texting while driving provisions including making it a primary offense. Also made numerous changes to the criminal code.
SB 302: Made changes to the state unemployment compensation system.
HB 23: Required EMS and police officers undergo dementia-related training and raised the maximum age for new highway patrol troopers.
HB 35: Permitted Ohio mayors to solemnize marriages.
HB 66: Made numerous tweaks to local taxing authority and reporting as well as $30 million for minor league sports teams.
HB 107: Revised Ohio’s elevator laws.
HB 150: Established a rural practice incentive program to pay student loans for attorneys working in public offices or underserved communities.
HB 178: Known as Makenna’s Law, this measure placed limits on water pressure at pools and other water parks.
HB 254: Established domestic violence fatality review boards.
HB 279: Shortened timeline for filing certain wrongful death claims.
HB 353: Known as Ohio’s “Testing Your Faith Act,” this bill directed higher ed institutions to develop accommodations for students who need to be absent for religious reasons.
HB 364: Changed application process for sewer and water infrastructure surcharges.
HB 392: Authorized transport of police dogs injured in the line of duty. An amendment made provisions for riding in a fifth wheel trailer and mounting safety devices on a windshield.
HB 405: Clarified rules of county hospital boards, gave coroners access to a law enforcement database and allowed treasurers to send bills electronically.
HB 423: Designated the American Soap Box Derby Ohio’s official gravity racing program.
HB 462: Prohibited “swatting.”
HB 487: Altered bidding process for Ohio ballot printing contracts to allow out of state vendors/printers to participate.
Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.
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