In terms of legislation, 2018 may be considered one of Ohio’s most impactful years in recent history. From the approval of the first medicinal marijuana dispensary to new abortion limitations, 2019 will see a dramatic change for many Ohioans.
Compiled below are ten of the most significant changes coming to the Buckeye State.
- Expanded Gun Ownership Rights – House Bill 228
- Through an override of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s veto, the Ohio congress passed HB 228, expanding a citizen’s right to self-defense. The bill was originally intended to be a ‘stand your ground’ law but shifted following the significant public controversy. As passed, the law shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases to the prosecution. Before passage, Ohio was the only state in America in which a defender had to prove that they were acting in self-defense.
- Dismemberment Abortion Ban – Senate Bill 145
- While Governor Kasich’s received widespread conservative criticism for his veto of the “Heartbeat Abortion Bill,” the Governor did sign one of the most extensive abortion limits in the country. SB 145, signed into law in late December, has banned one of the most commonly used second-trimester abortion procedures currently practiced nationwide. Governor Kasich has signed more than 20 abortion limitations during his tenure, making Ohio one of the most Pro-Life states in the country. Read more about this law here.
- Minimum Wage Increase – Ohio Minimum Wage Increase Amendment
- The minimum wage for tipped and untipped employees increased statewide in 2018. A 2006 amendment stipulates that the minimum wage in Ohio must be directly tied to the Consumer Price Index. After a 2.9% increase from 2017 to 2018, the minimum wage was increased for non-tipped employees, to $8.55 per hour, from $8.30. For tipped employees, hourly earnings increased to $4.30 per hour, from $4.15. Read more coverage about this law here.
- Medical Marijuana Registration Opens – House Bill 523
- Ohio’s first medicinal marijuana dispensary has been officially approved and is set to begin selling as early as January 2019. While medicinal marijuana was legalized in 2016, actual dispensing was set to begin in 2018, yet was delayed due to various legal hurdles. As many as three-in-ten Ohioans could be eligible for legal cannabis.
- Bipartisan Redistricting – Ohio Issue 1
- On May 8th, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to reform state congressional redistricting in the hope of combating the practice of gerrymandering. Historically, the majority party oversees the redistricting process. Starting after 2020 consensus, there will be a bipartisan committee that will redistrict Ohio in a manner which could extensively reshape politics statewide.
- Child Support Reform – House Bill 366
- In July, Ohio passed one of the most comprehensive children support overhaul packages in decades. The bulk of the legislation is aimed at ensuring that single mothers at lower incomes are ensured consistent payment from those financially responsible. It also overhauls the tables used to calculate support payments that for the first time since the early nineties.
- Fantasy Contest Regulations – House Bill 132
- To little media coverage, fantasy gambling contests (most famously fantasy football) has become a seven billion dollar industry. After operating without restriction for years, HB 132 officially legalized and regulated fantasy sports gambling. These fantasy contests have become one of the few legal means by which to gamble nationwide, raising many questions about the future of the gambling industry.
- Sierah’s Law – Senate Bill 231
- Ohio native Sierah “Ce” Catherine Joughin was a college junior who was abducted and murdered in July 2016 by a repeat, violent offender who was able to move freely throughout the state without oversight. In response, legislators voted to create a state registry for all violent offenders. This is the first time a list like this has been implemented in the state. While some civil rights groups – most notably the ACLU – opposed the bill, it passed with widespread support.
- Voting Equipment Overhaul – Senate Bill 135
- Ohio’s antiquated voting machines will be receiving a much-needed overhaul in time for the 2020 elections. SB 135, passed in June, will update or replace voting machines statewide, many of which are over 13 years old. The past decade has seen widespread technological advancements that have already made many of the machines obsolete and susceptible to compromise.
- Child Marriage Ban – House Bill 511
- This year, Ohio came closer than ever before to ending the shockingly practice of child marriage. Officially, the minimum age of marriage is eighteen for men and sixteen for women. Through a series loopholes, with the consent of the parents and a judge, marriage is legal at almost any age. HB 511 will close almost every loophole, limiting the minimum age of marriage to eighteen, with an exception for women, 17 years of age. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the law in 2018, before leaving office. Read more coverage of this bill here.
While national politics consistently overshadows state coverage, it is at the local level that the greatest change in the past year has been seen.
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