Ohio Lawmakers File Bill to Overhaul the State’s Medical Marijuana Program

Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill to change the state’s medical marijuana regulations, which would allow more people to use cannabis for medicinal purposes and establish a new state agency to manage the program.

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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Bill to Localize State Agency Licensure Appeals

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would transfer the conflict over state licenses that have been suspended or repealed to local county courts as opposed to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Senate Bill (SB) 21 sponsored by state Senators Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester) would provide legal challenges to licenses issued by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the State Medical Board, the State Chiropractic Board, the Board of Nursing, and the Liquor Control Commission to take place in the county where that person or company is based.

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Seven New Ohio State Senators Sworn in for New Legislative Session

In the 2022 general election, 17 of the Ohio State Senate’s 33 seats were up for grabs. As of January 2023, seven of those seats are held by members of the Democratic Party, and 26 are held by members of the Republican Party.

Four new Democratic state senators and three new Republican state senators have been sworn in to represent their constituents in the new legislative session.

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Governor DeWine Nominates Anne Vogel for Director of the Ohio EPA

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that he is nominating Republican Anne Vogel to become the next director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). If the Ohio Senate confirms the nomination, Vogel will replace current director Laurie Stevenson who announced her retirement at the end of this year.

The Ohio EPA protects the environment and public health by enforcing environmental laws. According to DeWine, Vogel has the right experience for the job, and due to their history working together, she understands his priorities for the state.

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Ohio Legislature Passes Law Requiring Sexual Abuse Prevention Education in Schools with the Restriction That Materials Cannot Promote Abortion

Ohio lawmakers passed a Bipartisan bill that requires schools to provide age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention education with the caveat that provided materials must not promote abortion.

House Bill (HB) 105 sponsored by state Representatives P.Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) known as Erin’s Law, was inserted into Senate Bill (SB) 288, a criminal justice bill sponsored by state Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) on December 15th.

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Ohio Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Cities from Banning Flavored Tobacco Sales

The Columbus City Council unanimously voted on Monday to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products within city limits. Under 48 hours later, the Ohio Senate approved a bill that would make Columbus City Council’s ban illegal.

House Bill (HB) 513, sponsored by state Representatives Jon Cross (R-Kenton ) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield), passed in the Ohio Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 23-8. The legislation includes an amendment known as a “preemption law, prohibiting local governments in Ohio from enacting any laws regarding tobacco or vaping products that are more strict than state law.”

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Ohio Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Create a Temporary Tax Amnesty Program

A bipartisan Ohio bill to establish a temporary tax amnesty program that would forgive interest and penalties on delinquent taxes and fees passed in the State Senate on Wednesday.

House Bill (HB) 45, sponsored by State Representatives Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) and Thomas West (D-Canton), aims to “create a temporary amnesty program for delinquent state taxes, forgiving taxpayers of penalties and interest accrued if they pay the full amount of their taxes owed during an established time period. Any person who pays that amount due during the amnesty period would also be immune from criminal prosecution or civil actions related to their taxes or fees paid.”

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Ohio Bipartisan Bill Aims to Allow Teenagers to Work Late on School Nights to Help with Staffing Problems

Teenagers in Ohio could be permitted to work until 9:00 p.m. on a school night if a bipartisan bill progressing through the Statehouse passes.

Senate Bill (SB) 251, sponsored by State Senators Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) and Tina Maharath (D-Columbus), aims to allow kids as young as 14 to work late during the school year if their parents give permission, to help with “staffing problems.”

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Lawmakers Look to Ban Gas Chambers for Pets and Increase Animal Cruelty Penalties in Ohio

A bipartisan bill in the Ohio House aims to classify the crime of animal cruelty as an act of violence and increase the penalties in animal abuse cases.

Senate Bill (SB) 164, sponsored by State Senators Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) and Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), would enhance Goddard’s Law that was passed in 2016, classifying serious physical harm of a pet as a fifth-degree felony.

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Ohio Senate Bill’s Provisions Aim to Protect Families from Fertility Fraud

Ohioans may soon get protections from fertility fraud after the Senate passed a major criminal justice reform bill.

A 27-2 bipartisan vote sent Senate Bill (SB) 288 sponsored by State Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) to the House where lawmakers will consider it further prior to sending it to Governor Mike DeWine for final approval.

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Ohio State Senate Passes Bill Expanding Drilling on State Land

Within 24 hours of presenting the idea, Ohio Senate Republicans passed legislation on Wednesday that aims to expand the ability to drill for oil and gas on state-owned lands.

A 2011 state law gave state agencies the power, if they choose, to lease out state lands for oil and gas exploration and production. However, the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission has been slow to approve any projects. Former Governor John Kasich signed that bill into law but didn’t appoint anyone to the commission for years. Under Governor Mike DeWine, the commission has met more often but has not approved leases.

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Ohio State Senate Passes Plan to Restructure the State’s Education System

The Ohio State Senate passed a 2,144-page Republican-backed bill to “restructure” the Ohio Department of Education on Wednesday.

Senate Bill (SB) 178 sponsored by State Senator Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) told the Primary and Secondary Education Committee that the bill seeks to “improve the academic achievement and workforce skills of our students, to drive better outcomes in their education, and to prepare for more effective career readiness.”

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Ohio Nurses Can Begin Applying for Multi-State Licenses on January 1st

With the unanimous passage of Senator Kristina Roegner’s (R-Hudson) Senate Bill (SB) 3 last year, nurses in Ohio will soon be able to choose a multistate license (MSL) through the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

Beginning on January 1st, 2023 registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nursing students will be able to apply for an MSL which will permit them to practice in any of the 37 other states that have joined under the NLC.

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Ohio House Approves $615 Million for Nursing Homes

Lawmakers in the Ohio House attached an amendment to a bill that would send $615 million to skilled nursing facilities to assist with staffing shortages and keep establishments open.

The amendment was attached to Senate Bill (SB) 110 sponsored by State Senators Sandra O’Brien (R-Ashtabula) and Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) which already appropriates $465 million for rental assistance programs.

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Ohio Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Firefighter Amendment in Cases of Vehicular Manslaughter

Following the tragic death of a Cleveland firefighter, Ohio lawmakers unanimously passed an amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 185 to set higher mandatory prison sentences for individuals convicted of striking and killing firefighters and emergency personnel on the road.

State Representatives Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) brought forward the amendment to address a concern in current state law that sets a higher minimum sentence for those convicted of vehicular homicide but omits firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

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Ohio House Joint Resolution Amended to Include Increasing Threshold to Legislative Ballot Initiatives

The Committee of Government Oversight amended a resolution Thursday to require all proposed ballot issues to receive 60 percent of the vote in order to amend the state constitution, not just citizen-led amendments.

State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville), requested the committee to adopt an amendment to his resolution, House Joint Resolution (HJR) 6, to include legislative ballot initiatives to also require 60 percent of the vote on election day in order to be enacted.

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Ohio House Passes Bill Protecting Firearms Rights During Declared Emergencies

Republicans in the Ohio House passed a bill Thursday, on a 55 to 22 vote, that will prevent state and local governments from closing gun stores, stopping processing background checks, or confiscating firearms without cause during declared states of emergency.

Senate Bill (SB) 185, sponsored by State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), aims to prevent state and local governments and elected or appointed officials from infringing on Second Amendments rights during declared emergencies. This would include required gun registrations, seizing weapons, banning the sale of ammunition, limiting the operating hours at shooting ranges, or prohibiting otherwise lawful hunting.

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Ohio Senate Passes Major Criminal Justice Reforms

The Ohio Senate voted 27-2 on Wednesday in favor of a criminal justice reform bill that aims to change how quickly inmates can earn time off of their prison sentences, expand immunity from prosecution for minor drug possession offenses, and strengthens penalties for domestic violence offenders.

Senate Bill (SB) 288 sponsored by Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) aims to provide alternative services to people in lieu of jail or prison or to divert people from an already overburdened prison system.

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Republican State Senator Introduces Bill Granting Educational Freedom to Ohio Students

An Ohio lawmaker introduced legislation on Tuesday to the General Assembly to expand schooling options for Ohio children.

Senate Bill (SB) 368, sponsored by State Senator Sandra O’Brien (R-Ashtabula), known as the Parental Education Freedom Act, would make each student in the state eligible for an Educational Choice (EdChoice) Scholarship to be used at a private school of their choice, or an increased tax credit for expenses related to homeschooling.

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Buckeye Institute Urges Ohio Legislators to End Late-Summer Special Elections

The Ohio Senate Local Government and Elections Committee held its third hearing on Tuesday regarding legislation to end the state’s late-summer special elections, drawing supportive testimony from Buckeye Institute Research Fellow Greg R. Lawson. 

Lawson’s Columbus-based center-right policy outfit backs the effort to eliminate these elections which feature nominating contests for state legislative offices, state-party committee votes and many ballot initiatives. The bill, sponsored by state Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township), passed the state House of Representatives 68-22 last December and must pass the Senate and receive Governor Mike DeWine’s (R) signature in December to become law. All House members who opposed the measure last year were Democrats. 

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Ohio Senate Republicans Aim to Clarify Women’s Health Exemptions on Six-Week Abortion Ban

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said after feedback from medical professionals, Republicans in the Ohio Senate are working to clarify language on the six-week limits on  abortion.

According to Huffman, they are working to clarify definitions regarding the health and life of the mother. The new limit known as the “heartbeat bill,” prohibits most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is at about six weeks of pregnancy.

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Republican Matt Huffman Unanimously Re-Elected as Ohio Senate President

Ohio Senator Matt Huffman, (R-Lima) will once again serve as President of the Ohio Senate for the 135th General Assembly after a unanimous vote Tuesday, as reported by a release from the Senate.

Huffman was first elected to the Ohio Senate in 2016. He was re-elected to a second term in 2020 when he previously served as Senate President during the 134th General Assembly and prior to that as Majority Floor Leader. This follows his serving four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives building up to his election as Speaker Pro Tempore.

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Ohio GOP Bill Seeks Overhaul of State Education System and Board of Education

A new bill introduced by Ohio Senate Republicans aims to “restructure” Ohio’s State Department of Education, create a new administrative division under the governor’s office, and reduce the duties of the state Board of Education.

Senate Bill (SB) 178, sponsored by Senator Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) was introduced in the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee on Tuesday. The bill seeks to “improve the academic achievement and workforce skills of our students, to drive better outcomes in their education, and to prepare for more effective career readiness,” Reineke told the committee.

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Ohioans Can View What’s on the Ballot Before Going to the Polls

With only a week left until the midterm election and early voting well underway Ohioans can access, review, and mark their selections on a sample ballot prior to election day.

The November 8th election is a midterm, so a number of federal, state, and local candidates will be on the ballot as well as two important statewide issues.

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Ohio Senate Poll Shows Vance’s Lead Grows over Ryan

Republican J.D. Vance’s lead over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan grew up to 4 points in Ohio’s Senate race 53 days out from Election Day, according to a new survey from Emerson College Polling and The Hill released Friday, in a bad sign for Democrats’ hopes of taking the Senate.

Vance held a 44% to 40% lead in polling conducted by Emerson College and The Hill in Ohio’s race for U.S. Senate. He previously led Ryan by three points, 45% to 42%, according to Emerson College’s polling in August.

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Republicans Dominate Democrats in Ohio Senate Race Fundraising

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political entities may contribute to campaigns.

While campaign finance is not the only factor in electoral outcomes, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages during a campaign. Fundraising can also indicate party momentum.

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Ohio Senate Agrees with House Plan to Adjust Military Overseas Voting

Two days after unanimously approving a plan to change the timing of military overseas voting to keep the state’s May 3 primary on track, the Ohio Senate approved a new plan passed by the Ohio House.

The Senate passed, 26-2, amendments late Wednesday to Substitute Senate Bill 11, which designated congenital heart defect awareness month but now also eliminates 16 days of military overseas voting, allows for expedited mailing of military overseas ballots, allows those ballots to be received 20 days after the primary and gives $200,000 to county boards of elections.

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Ohio Senate Candidate J.D. Vance Slams Proponents of Intervention in Ukraine

Noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “an evil man,” U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance Tuesday slammed proponents of U.S. intervention in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

“The media and political elites are seething at me because I uttered aloud what everyone deep down knows is true: that the Russia-Ukraine border dispute has nothing to do with our national security, no American interest is served by our intervention, and that the obsession with Ukraine from our idiot leaders serves no function except to distract us from our actual problems,” Vance said in a press release. 

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Ohio Senate Passes ‘Constitutional Carry’ Bill

The Ohio Senate on Wednesday approved a measure that will allow an individual to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a concealed carry permit, also known as “constitutional carry.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 215, introduced by Senator Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), permits any individual aged 21 or over to carry the concealed firearm, making the class and license an optional decision for the state’s residents.

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Proposed Law Would End Ohio Sales Tax on Guns, Ammunition, Knives

Sales tax would no longer be collected on guns, ammunition and knives in Ohio if a bill planned for introduction in the state House of Representatives becomes law.

State GOP Rep. Al Cutrona recently announced he will introduce legislation that would exempt those items from sales tax, saying the move would help make gun, ammunition and knife retailers and manufacturers more competitive with neighboring states.

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Ohio Senate Secures Gun-Ownership Rights During Emergencies

Tom Schaffer

The Ohio Senate has solidified gun rights, limited government power in an emergency and clarified knives are included in the right to bear arms.

Senate Bill 185, which passed 23-7, stops the state or local governments from confiscating any lawfully owned gun during a declared emergency. Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said it protects Ohioans’ right to protect themselves and does not add any new gun rights.

“This legislation will protect the rights of Ohioans to their firearms recognizing their natural right to self-defense, as well as to feed their families during times of declared emergencies,” Schaffer said.

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General Assembly Keeps Foreign Languages, Home Economics in Ohio Schools

Cleveland Metropolitan School District 8th grade students read with their kindergarten buddies and help the young learners discover the joy of reading.

Foreign languages, business education and home economics still will be a required part of curriculum in Ohio schools after the Ohio Senate voted unanimously to stop a proposal from the Ohio Department of Education that would have allowed them to be eliminated.

The Senate concurred with House Concurrent Resolution 35 to stop a plan that would have changed the state’s administrative code to eliminate those required courses of study, a change put forth by the State Board of Education. The House passed the resolution, 95-0.

Wednesday’s vote marked the first time in 25 years the General Assembly stopped a rule from going into effect, according to Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, who serves on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

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Ohio US Senate Hopeful Mandel Twitter Post from Brewery Causes Social Media Stir

U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel caused a stir on social media over the weekend after he posted a photo Friday evening at a local brewery. 

“PERRYSBURG, OH — [Inside the Five] is a cool brewery started by two NFL vets. Great food and spirited waitresses! Even though Brianne was sick today, she came to work because she knew they were short servers. These are the type of American workers that make our country strong,” he said in a tweet. 

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Ohio Senate Approves Legalized Sports Betting

Cleveland Browns football defense

Sports bettors in Ohio are a step closer to being able to stay in state to place a wager after the Ohio Senate passed a bill legalizing sports betting and e-bingo.

If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, Senate Bill 176 brings Ohio in line with neighboring Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania by allowing sports bets through retail or online sportsbooks.

The legislation passed Wednesday with a 30-2 vote.

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Ohio Republicans Move to Exempt Doctors from Providing Abortions on Religious Grounds

Image of a doctor's uniform

Ohio Republicans have added a provision to the state’s two year budget bill that would allow doctors and insurance providers to refuse to perform and pay for abortions if abortion violates their moral or religious beliefs. 

State Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) is responsible for the new language in the bill, according to The Columbus Dispatch. That language would also protect doctors and insurance companies from lawsuits by those to whom they  refuse service, the report said. 

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Ohio Senate Voting on Budget Bill, Restricted Abortions

The Ohio Senate is set to vote on its version of the state’s two-year, $75 billion budget.

The main items in the Senate’s budget plan, which is similar to the budget on which the Ohio House voted in April, are an income tax cut, along with increased school funding. 

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Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Protect Police, First Responders

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) that will enhance protection for individuals who serve in law enforcement or as a first responder.

If enacted, an assault of an emergency responder or their families could lead to a possible 4th degree felony. Further, an individual who places a first responder or their family in fear of physical harm can be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.

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Ohio Senate Moves Toward Making Professional Licensing Easier

Ohio State Senate Chamber

The Ohio Senate took another step toward reducing regulations surrounding medical licenses when it agreed to allow the state to join 29 others in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

The move follows similar compacts the Senate passed this session for physical therapy, nursing and occupational therapy.

Senate Bill 6, if passed by the House and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, provides an expedited path for licensure for qualified physicians who want to practice in multiple states and provides incentive for professionals to come to Ohio, said bill sponsor Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson.

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What Senate Bill 22 Does and Does Not Do

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Wednesday the Ohio General Assembly (GA) did something that doesn’t often happen – the Republican supermajority delivered veto override votes in both chambers to undo what a Governor from their own party did just one day earlier.

Senate Bill 22 (SB22) is a law that establishes legislative oversight of emergency, standing and special orders issued by state leaders and agencies – giving the General Assembly the power to rescind orders with a concurrent resolution (a simple majority vote of both the House and the Senate) instead of passing a law that requires the Governor’s approval.

Below is a simple list of what the new law does and doesn’t do.

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Representative Candice Keller Targeted by Activists at Save Our Children Rally

Counter-protesters wearing black activism gear targeted Representative Candice Keller (R-OH-53) after her speech this past weekend at a Save Our Children Rally in Columbus. Keller is an avid pro-life legislator and creator of the Ohio Heartbeat Bill.

Keller and her husband Kent – a write-in candidate for the Ohio Senate – attended the rally. In interviews with The Ohio Star, Keller states that she and her husband were walking back to their cars when they noticed people recording and following them. Every time the couple looked back, the group stopped and stared – but continued taping.

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Ohio Dem Accuses State House Republicans of Failing to Address ‘Hostile Work Environment’

An Ohio Democrat claimed last week that current House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and his two predecessors “ignored requests dating back several years” to address “a hostile work environment in the Ohio House.”

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Conservatives Say Obhof’s Canceling Session Before Acton Vote is ‘Betrayal’

Conservatives are using words like “betrayal” to describe Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof’s late-night move to kill a vote on a bill to curb Dr. Amy Acton’s unrestrained powers in shutting the state down, and suggests he had an ulterior motive.

The Senate will not act this week on Senate Bill One pulling back the Health Department director’s powers, meaning it will likely fail, Fox 19 Now reported. The Senate is only having committee meetings this week and will hold a session next week.

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Ohio Senate Passes Emergency Legislation Meant to Help Ohioans During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed emergency legislation aimed at helping Ohioans deal with the coronavirus.

House Bill 197 dealt with a plethora of issues including the state’s primary voting, education, taxes and unemployment benefits.

The Ohio House of Representatives will vote on this bill later today.

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Dark Money Group Promoting DeWine’s Gun Control Platform Has Connections to Governor

A recent report found that a dark money group promoting Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun control platform has connections to the governor himself.

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New Senate Bills Provide Greater Restrictions on Physicians Providing Abortions

Two anti-abortion bills in the Ohio Senate have cleared the Health Committee, making way for closer restrictions on abortion pill reverse treatment and rights of abortion survivors. Both could get a vote by the full Senate as early as Wednesday.

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Ohio Democratic House Sends Letter to Speaker Complaining LGBTQ Members are Not ‘Protected Class’ in House Employee Handbook

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) sent a formal letter of complaint to Speaker Larry Householder this week expressing “disappointment and concern” that LGBTQ employees are not listed as a “protected class” in the House of Representatives’ Employee Handbook.

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Former State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson Recommended by Senate Republicans to Fill Vacant 14th District Seat, Could Face Primary Challenge

Senate President Larry Obhof announced Wednesday the recommendation of former State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson to fill the vacant 14th Senate District seat. Johnson served in the Ohio House from 2011 to 2018. He was forced to leave because of term limits. One of the other five aspiring appointees told The Ohio Star he is considering a primary challenge. More are possible.

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