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 10 things that happened last 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 assaults 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 in a released statement. "This bill sends a strong message of support to those brave men and women who see us at our worst or in our greatest times of need and to those who protect and defend our freedoms and liberties."

The House vote on the legislation was unanimous.

2. Couple of More: 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. According to a release, "These rulings including high-profile cases such as deciding that police dash-cam videos are public records along with more routine rulings such as admonishing the city of South Euclid for not releasing requested records to citizens."

" For whatever reason -- and it just may be that lawyers are bringing better cases and arguing them better -- the current trend is very encouraging," Dennis Hetzel, who heads the coalition, said in a released statement. "Three years ago, we were very concerned that the pendulum of court decisions had swung too far in favor of secrecy."

You can read the coalitions open government database of court decisions online at

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.

6. Boating! The governor signed HB 84, designating June as Ohio Goes Boating Month.

But you won't get to celebrate the new designation officially until next year, since bills generally don't take effect until 90 days after the governor signs them.

7. State Auction: The last auction of unclaimed safe deposit items generated more than $353,000 for the state -- not a bad result, given the appraised value of coins and other valuables was about $237,000.

The Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Unclaimed Funds is selling long-forgotten safe deposit box contents to the highest bidder, via auctions every few months.

The proceeds from the sales will be held until owners come to claim their share.

The state maintains a website (, where residents can check to see if any forgotten payments, security deposits or bank deposit box contents have been posted.

8. Death Penalty: The Ohio Supreme Court set a June 2020 execution date for Romell Broom, whose 2009 execution was halted after prison officials couldn't find suitable veins to carry the lethal injection.

Broom, convicted in the rape and murder of a Cleveland teen, was reportedly struck at least 18 times over two hours before then-Gov. Ted Strickland granted a reprieve.

Broom sued to block further execution attempts, but the Ohio Supreme Court paved the way for a new lethal injection date in a split decision more than a year ago.

There are now more than 30 executions scheduled through 2021, though ongoing legal challenges have led to continued postponements in recent years as the state tries to find lethal injection drug supplies and convince the court that its execution protocols are constitutional.

9. On a Lighter Note: The fidget spinner craze hit the state legislature last week, with Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) likely becoming the first state lawmaker to have one of the popular-with-the-kids devices on the floor of the Ohio House.

He received his spinner from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, during a Statehouse visit earlier in the week. He said he hadn't even heard of fidget spinners until he was handed one.

"They say it is all the rave now in schools," he said, adding that the toys are addictive.

But don't expect to see Perales spinning during session.

"Absolutely not," he replied when asked about the possibility.

10. Fidget Spinner Postscript: Asked after the May 17 session whether there was any talk of amending the House rules to bar fidget spinning during floor session, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) proclaimed his ignorance of the fad.

"What's a fidget spinner?" he said. "I don't even know what a fidget spinner is, so I guess I can't comment accurately on it."

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.