The close of the spring legislative session saw a flurry of activity in the General Assembly as multiple bills were passed and sent to Governor John Kasich for signature. These included the general budget and government reform Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) measure, House Bill 487, touted by Governor Kasich. Of the remaining MBR bills, the energy bill (Senate Bill 315) and the tax law change bill (House Bill 508) have been sent to the Governor while the rest remain in committee. Other noteworthy bills either signed or sent to the Governor for signature in the past month:

  • Senate Bill 31: Establishes requirements governing the possession of dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes.
  • House Bill 473: The second Great Lakes Compact bill. Governor Kasich vetoed the first attempt to enact the compact last year.
  • House Bill 99: The texting while driving ban, which also bans teenagers from using any mobile device while driving.
  • Senate Bill 295: The repeal of House Bill 194 election reforms that was set for referendum this fall.
  • Senate Bill 294: Revisions to the state’s environmental protection laws.
  • House Bill 386: Changes to the law regarding video lottery terminals, casino gaming and horse racing.
  • Senate Bill 245: Mandatory training requirements for used motor vehicle dealers.

This session’s General Assembly already has been significantly more active than the previous session. Through June 5 of this year, the Governor has signed 116 bills compared with 58 bills during the previous session.

Both Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) have stated that they will likely conduct sessions during June to finish work on a few outstanding bills. Following that, both houses will break for the summer and likely not return until after the November 2012 election for a lame-duck session.

Agreement reached for Cleveland school reform plan

Late in the month, administrative and legislative leaders along with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson agreed to the last details of the plan to transform Cleveland schools. Mayor Jackson had hoped his plan, introduced as House Bill 525 and Senate Bill 335, would pass before legislators left for the Memorial Day holiday but disagreement over the authority of the Transformation Alliance slowed the bills’ progress. According to Speaker Batchelder, the latest deal keeps Mayor Jackson’s plan intact with minor changes.  Some of the most recent changes include:

  • The Ohio Department of Education in conjunction with the Transformation Alliance and the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers shall make recommendations regarding approval of sponsor of new community schools, develop criteria to authorize new community schools and develop school-specific annual assessment criteria.
  • The authorization to create and operate the Transformation Alliance shall “sunset” five years after the effective date of this legislation.
  • Only those community schools that are sponsored by the municipal district or with whom the municipal district chooses to enter into a partnership agreement shall be eligible to receive proceeds from a local property tax levy. The school board of the municipal school district shall determine how local revenues are distributed as well as which community schools to sponsor or which school with which to enter into a partnership agreement.
  • The Cleveland Municipal School District shall:
    • Create an array of performance measures of student achievement, student progress, achievement and progress of students and college- and career-readiness; subject to the approval of the State Superintendent for Public Instruction.
    • Annually set improvement goals for performance measures for each school year beginning with the 2012-13 school year.
    • Beginning in 2012, no later than October 1 each year the District shall annually report to the Governor, General Assembly and State Superintendent of Public Instruction the district’s progress on adopted performance measures.  

The bills are being heard in the House and Senate Education Committees.