COLUMBUS — Yes, they’re still talking about the biennial budget bill on Capitol Square, and they’ll continue to do so for the next month or so.
But there’s lots of other stuff going in Columbus. Here are 5 things that happened this week at the Statehouse:
1. Passed: Lawmakers in the Ohio House and Senate signed off on a handful of bills.
Included in the mix was HB 38, titled the Public Safety and Military Protection Act, which would increase criminal penalties for those who murder or assault first responders or members of the military.
"There have been repeated incidences of disturbing attacks on those who have dedicated their lives to protect and serve our communities and our nation," Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake), primary sponsor of the measure, said.
The House vote on the legislation was unanimous.
2. More Bills: The Senate OK’d SB 8, which would establish the "1:1 School Facilities Option Program" as an alternative for certain school districts seeking state funding for building projects.
And the House approved HB 124, an attempt to reconcile a tax issue in suburban Columbus, where an elections board forgot to place a school levy affecting landowners in multiple counties on the the ballot in all affected precincts.
School officials said there were enough votes favor of the renewal, regardless of the balloting error. Tax officials, however, said that state law doesn’t give them the authority to move forward with collections.
The Ohio Supreme Court sided with the tax commissioner, necessitating lawmaker action to address the issue.
3. Last One: The Ohio House also signed off on SB 24, which would create the Ohio Consumer Installment Loan Act, an update of loan-related laws in state code.
"This bill will provide clarity to borrowers, lenders and state and federal regulators [and is a] needed change in our state law," said Rep. Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira).
Pending Senate concurrence on changes made by the House, the bill will head to the governor’s desk for his signature and final enactment.
4. Open Government: The Ohio Coalition for Open Government released a report showing that the Ohio Supreme Court had issued rulings favorable to open government advocates over the last two years.
The state’s high court released 13 rulings in 2015 and ’16 that were supportive of open meetings, records and government.
You can read the coalitions open government database of court decisions online at www.OhioOpenGov.com.
5. New Position: Former state rep. Lynn Slaby (R-Copley), who earlier this year resigned his post on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, was sworn in as a member of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. His new term will expire in early 2021.
Slaby spent 14 years in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and served as a judge on the Ninth District Court of Appeals before being elected to the state legislature. His wife, Marilyn, was elected to his former seat in the Ohio House.