Capital News: Ohio House and Senate move flurry of bills before holiday break

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Lawmakers left town for the holiday break but not before pushing through dozens of bills and resolutions during two weeks of marathon sessions.

Absent from the final list was a handful of Republican-backed election law changes, a bill to revamp renewable energy requirements for utilities and any number of other contentious issues that will resurface in the new year.

Included among the legislation headed to the governor's desk were bills aimed at cutting Medicaid costs and ensuring only eligible Ohioans are casting ballots in elections. Those and others bills were passed on split votes, with Republicans supporting and many Democrats opposing.

But there were many, many other bills that moved through one chamber or the other or both that passed with unanimous or near-unanimous support from lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle.

Here's a rundown of some of less-contentious legislation:

• House Bill 111 would require trustees at Kent State, Youngstown State, the Northeast Ohio Medical University and other state universities to adopt resolutions allowing or disallowing student members to have voting powers.

Allowing them would enable student trustees, who are appointed to two-year terms by the governor with the Ohio Senate's consent, to participate in executive sessions. The bill passed the House on a vote of 87-6 and heads to the Senate for further consideration.

• HB 206 creates a "Disabled American Veteran" license plate, with proceeds directed to the Disabled American Veterans Department of Ohio. The House passed the bill 93-0, and it heads to the Senate for further consideration.

• HB 292 creates an "Aerospace and Technology Study Committee," headed by lawmakers, to promote the industry in the state. According to an analysis by the Legislative Service Commission, "The committee would be charged with compiling an annual report of its activities, findings and recommendations …" The bill passed the House on a vote of 90-0 and heads to the Senate for further consideration.

• The House and Senate OK'd HB 23, which creates an "Ovarian Cancer Awareness" license plate, with proceeds going to the Cancer Support Community of Central Ohio.

• Both chambers also OK'd HB 177, which bans the installation of counterfeit or nonfunctioning air bags in motor vehicles.

• The House and Senate adopted a handful of resolutions, including SCR 24 (designating November 2013 as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month), HCR 32 (designating July 2014 as Independent Retailers Week), HR 306 (noting the health issues that come with malnutrition), SCR 8 (designating April as Forgotten Victims of Crime Month) and SCR 14 (commemorating the War of 1812 and Battle of Lake Erie),

Also adopted was HCR 40, which acknowledges "the Governmental Accounting Standards Board standards 67 and 68 and to pledge the General Assembly's continued support of Ohio's public employers and retirement systems in their mission to provide secure and sustainable retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to Ohio's public employees," according to an analysis.

• The Senate passed SB 103, which names a section of State Route 2 in the Cleveland area as the Gov. Richard F. Celeste Shoreway," in honor of the former governor.

• SB 161 would require motor vehicle headlights to be white, with drivers of cars with colored headlights potentially facing misdemeanor charges. The bill passed the Senate on a unanimous vote, and it heads to the House for further consideration.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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