COLUMBUS -- We're days away from the final votes on the biennial state budget, barring some unforeseen craziness before the start of the new fiscal year.

This made for a busy week at the Statehouse, with lengthy voting sessions and the beginning of behind-closed-door negotiations on the new two-year spending plan.

Here are 10 things that happened around the Statehouse last week:

1. What's Next: HB 49 is in the hands of a six-member, Republican-controlled Conference Committee, with most of the final haggling over the budget taking place out of public view and a negotiated bill expected to surface by midweek.

"We're hoping to have something done by Tuesday or Wednesday ..." said House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell).

2. Mum: Gov. John Kasich has line-item veto authority over whatever lawmakers approve, meaning he can strike provisions he doesn't support.

He wasn't offering any clues on what he might remove, once the legislation hits his desk.

Asked about the legislation and possible vetoes earlier in the week, Kasich told reporters, "We have a long way to go. The Senate has done a very good job in terms of fiscal stability, which I'm most concerned about. In a time when you're trying to achieve fiscal stability, that becomes paramount to everything else."

3. A Possibility: There's ongoing disagreement between the governor and Republican lawmakers on the expanded Medicaid-eligible population. Among other provisions, the Senate version of the budget would bar new enrollees in the expanded eligibility group as of July 2018.

Could Kasich veto that language or other provisions without affecting the rest of the spending authority needed to cover Medicaid expenses?

State budget Director Tim Keen told reporters he hadn't looked at the new enrollee language to determine whether it was veto-able without disrupting other parts of the budget.

But, he added, "It is my understanding that there were no adjustments made to appropriation levels associated with that amendment."

4. Other Bills: The budget legislation wasn't the only thing on lawmakers' plates during a busy week. The Ohio Houe and Senate moved on more than 20 bills during single voting sessions.

The list included SB 2, with provisions related to drinking water systems, including regulations affecting the handling of dredged materials from federal navigation channels and additional authority for the head of the Ohio EPA to transfer, revoke or modify water quality certifications.

"The importance of this bill cannot be overstated," Rep. Michael O'Brien (D-Warren), a supporter of the bill, said in a released statement. "Our children and our children's children will benefit from the work done by the general assembly on this legislation. I applaud the way we came together -- Democrats and Republicans -- to take meaning action on making our state safer and stronger for all Ohioans."

SB 2 passed on a vote of 85-10 and heads to the governor's desk for his signature and final enactment.

5. High Tech: The House also OK'd HB 170, which calls on the state Board of Education "to adopt academic content standards and model curriculum for computer science" that could then be used by schools wanting to increase students' access to related coursework.

"One-size-fits-all is being replaced with customized education for students on different pathways," Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), a primary co-sponsor, said in a released statement. "HB 170 will allow students to take more computer science classes and count them toward graduation requirements. This choice will be left to the student and the local school board. HB 170 will not force students to take this pathway, but it will free up Ohio's graduation requirements to allow this pathway to occur."

The bill heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

6. Addiction: The House approved HB 145, which would allow doctors to seek treatment if they become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The bill calls for the establishment of a confidential "One-Bite" treatment program for physicians who have not been sanctioned for related impairments.

"Many times, physicians are scared to seek help and ruin their livelihood," Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay), a primary co-sponsor, said in a released statement. "... By giving physicians an opportunity to seek help, this legislation improves patient safety by making sure that individuals aren't being treated by impaired providers."

The bill heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

7. Wheelchairs: The House OK'd HB 195, which would exempt taxi and other transportation companies (Uber is specifically named) from having to obtain a license from the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire and Transportation Services if they are transporting wheelchair-bound residents to medical or other nonemergency appointments.

"HB 195 will improve the lives of Ohioans who use wheelchairs by expanding their transportation options to include taxies or newer services like Lyft and Uber, making it easier and less expensive for them to get to medical appointments and other important engagements," Rep. Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati), a primary co-sponsor, said in a released statement.

The bill heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

8. Highways and Byways: The Ohio Senate signed off on SB 117, which would designate May as Drive Ohio Byways Month, with hopes of increasing traffic along specially marked routes that guide visitors through historic, scenic and other areas of the state.

Tourism officials in a number of counties, including Wayne, Holmes and Guernsey, submitted letters supporting the legislation.

9. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Kasich recently signed four bills into law, including measures allowing another three-day sales tax holiday on certain back-to-school purchases during the first weekend in August and another allowing casino operators and employees to enjoy slots, card tables and gaming at other facilities.

10. Veteran Honors: You still have about a week to submit nominations for the this year's Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame class, which honors military men and women for their community service.

The deadline is Friday. Past honorees have included "astronauts, government officials, police officers, community leaders and veterans' advocates," according to a release.

Details are available online at

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