COLUMBUS — When the Ohio Senate returns on Aug. 23, it’s likely to be only the third time in 38 years that the legislature voted to successfully override a governor’s veto.
The Senate is likely to override at least a handful of Gov. John Kasich’s budget vetoes. But the chamber also is expected to pass on some of the 11 veto overrides approved by the House on July 6, including one that would give lawmakers the authority to appoint members to a commission that approves permits to allow fracking in state parks and other public lands.
For five years, Kasich has refused to appoint members to the board, in effect creating a fracking moratorium on public lands.
Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said his caucus has not finalized its veto override list, but he expects "several."
However, Obhof said it’s unlikely there is enough support to override items that were not included in the original Senate-passed version of the budget. That would include the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission, and a provision giving the legislature oversight of Medicaid rate increases.
But other overrides are more likely. "I would anticipate a number of them," Obhof said.
"And there’s some Medicaid things I may have been involved in drafting," Obhof said, apparently referring to the controversial Medicaid expansion freeze that the House declined to take up.
Other potential override votes could come on several other Medicaid bills where the House already has approved an override, such as requiring the state to seek a federal waiver requiring certain Medicaid enrollees to pay into a modified health savings account, allocating an additional $237 million for nursing homes, and mandating Controlling Board oversight of about $260 million of state-share Medicaid spending.
Legislative leaders have said they are looking to reclaim some authority over Medicaid spending, the largest piece of the two-year $65.5 billion budget.
The Senate also could override on a provision that aims to help counties and transit authorities deal with the loss of $200 million in annual sales tax revenue because they can no longer tax Medicaid managed care services.
The Kasich administration has expressed concern that the overrides will create a deficit in the Medicaid program, and opening up that Medicaid managed care issue could jeopardize hundreds of millions the state is already collecting in franchise fees.
"I think it was drawn in such a way that hopefully minimizes those concerns," Obhof said.
A Republican legislature voting to override a Republican governor is very rare in Ohio. Of the 129 veto override votes in state history, 89 percent involved Democratic governors, according to LSC research.
A Republican-controlled legislature has overridden a Republican governor only three times in state history — twice in 1947 to Gov. Thomas Herbert, and in the state’s most recent successful veto override, in December 2006, when Gov. Bob Taft vetoed a bill that prohibited cities from imposing their own local gun-control laws.
Most overrides of Democratic governors involved Republican-controlled legislatures. However there were six votes in 1949 to override Gov. Frank Lausche by a legislature under thin Democratic control. Two of those budget overrides involved air conditioning for the House and Senate.
Democratic Gov. Michael DiSalle also was overridden by a Democratic legislature three times in 1959.
Senate Republicans hold a 24-9 majority and need 20 votes to approve an override. Obhof said the Senate also "might ask the House to send us some more."
Those requests, he said, could include a maritime assets provision that is important to northern Ohio lawmakers, and a provision aimed at allowing Newark Schools to continue sponsoring an online school.
The veto override was first added to the Ohio Constitution in 1903, and it required a two-thirds vote by the legislative chambers. That was reduced to a three-fifths vote in 1913.
Regardless of what the Senate does, Kasich is still a long way from Gov. Victor Donahey, who, according to the Ohio Politics Almanac, earned the nickname "Veto Vic" for his battles with the Republican-controlled legislature.
Fueled by a vigorous opposition to tax increases, Donahey vetoed 151 bills and appropriations, and the legislature voted to override him 58 times from 1923 to 1927.
Overrides have been far rarer lately. Taft and Gov. Richard F. Celeste had one each, while Govs. George V. Voinovich and Ted Strickland had none.