Bills that passed the Ohio General Assembly in 2014
Maybe the legislation needed more time for review or didn’t have quite enough support. Whatever the reason—this was the year those bills finally made it past state lawmakers.
The most recent example is the reform to Ohio’s redistricting process. For the past decade, critics of the process have said it creates maps that are aggressively gerrymandered, which is what happens when lawmakers redraw voting districts to benefit their political party.
The House passed changes to the process in early December, and as the clock ticked down to the end of the Senate session—leaders from both parties and both chambers reached a deal in the early morning hours.
Republican Senator Frank LaRose of Copley said the bipartisan agreement achieves what both parties wanted to accomplish.
“And that was to come up with something that was not good for Republicans—something that’s not good for Democrats—but something that was good for Ohio and I’m confident that we’ve done that,” LaRose said.
Lawmakers from both sides say the deal incentivizes approval from minority party members and includes measures requiring representational fairness.
The debate over the use of red light and speed cameras is the rare issue that stirs intense arguments but skews party lines. And in 2014, lawmakers passed a bill that requires a police officer to be with the camera and to see the violation for a ticket to be issued.
Republican Senator Bill Seitz of Cincinnati sponsored the bill, as he did with a similar measure in 2006. Democratic Senator Charleta Tavares of Columbus – who doesn’t agree with Seitz on much – was one of several Democrats who joined him on this issue.
“I’m not generally a cynic, but when you follow the money and you see where it goes and people start depending on that level of resources and then it’s not enough,” Tavares said. “You have to grow more cameras so you generate more revenue.”
2014 also marked the end of a long chapter between conservatives and the green energy industry. Six years ago the Legislature created standards—requiring utilities to achieve a certain amount of efficiency and use a certain amount of renewable energy.
Though that was a bipartisan agreement—some Republicans have been working to get rid of the standards ever since. After considering several measures—lawmakers ended up passing a measure that took the form of a two-year freeze.
Representative Dan Ramos, a Democrat from Lorain, claims this bill will drive green energy companies out of the state.
“It tells the free market—it tells business—Ohio’s not for you if you want to create jobs in the alternative energy sector,” Ramos said.
The House and Senate passed a measure to provide confidentiality for entities that make drugs for executions, which Republican Representative Jim Buchy of Greenville said was the only way to make sure the death penalty can still be a reality in Ohio.
“The mere threat right now of litigation is one of the motivating factors for the drug companies not selling their drugs and pharmacists to be hesitant about doing their jobs,” Buchy said.
Those opposed to the confidentiality measure believe it goes too far in concealing public records.
This was also the year legislators finally voted to unify the local tax collection.
But there is a slew of other bills that lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich are ready to go to battle for in the next General Assembly – including raising the cigarette tax and the tax on oil and natural gas drillers.
And with a record number of Republicans in the House—it’s likely more conservative measures like the Heartbeat bill and a repeal on the Common Core education standards could get yet another chance.