Dec 16, 2022 - Politics

Here's what Ohio lawmakers passed during 16-hour lame duck session

Illustration of the Ohio State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Ohio's post-election political period is characterized by a flurry of activity, backroom negotiating and, toward the end, 132 very tired lawmakers.

Driving the news: Both hurried and seemingly endless, this year's lame-duck session culminated in a 16-hour legislative marathon that wrapped up yesterday morning.

  • "I rise in opposition to this …," one lawmaker said around 5:15am, "for a lot of reasons which I can't even think of right now."

Why it matters: While you slept, legislators passed laws impacting your voting rights, Columbus' new flavored tobacco ban and safety on the roadways.

What passed:

✅ An election overhaul to:

  • Require photo ID to vote.
  • Shorten the absentee ballot request period.
  • Eliminate early voting the Monday before Election Day.
  • End August special elections in most cases.

🏛 Criminal justice reforms, including:

  • Decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips .
  • Banning cell phone use while driving, except for hands-free or single-swipe actions.

🚬 Eliminating municipal tobacco bans.

ğŸž Allowing fracking on public lands.

💵 $6 billion in federal relief funding, including:

  • Money for nursing homes, rural hospitals, an adoption grant program and arts programs.

What didn't pass:

❌ Stricter abortion policies.

  • Republicans opted against pursuing a total abortion ban this fall, but may do so in 2023.

🗳 Tougher ballot initiative rules.

🏫 Major education changes.

  • Lawmakers wanted to shift power away from the state school board toward the governor's office.

🏆 Anti-trans laws.

Separately, proposals to legalize recreational marijuana and enact gun control measures failed to gain traction.

What's next: Approved bills head to the governor's desk for a signature, while all other legislative efforts start over next year.

Ohio's weirdest proposed laws

For every major policy proposal is an obscure one that tends to go overlooked.

  • Take House Bill 379, which pitched a new "Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland" license plate.

The intrigue: We scoured the Statehouse for the most unusual items proposed this two-year term:

ğŸŽž No love for Ralphie. A bipartisan bill wanted to designate Nov. 18 as "Christmas Story Family Day" for the date in 1983 that the movie was released.

😬 Don't eat Fido. Six lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to ban pet food from containing the remains of dead cats and dogs.

🏈 Go Buckeyes? One resolution promoted former OSU player Dick Schafrath's candidacy to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while another sought to get the program's vacated victories from 2010 reinstated.

  • The House passed the latter resolution by a 51-31 vote, but the Senate failed to take it up.

🍪 Cookie crumbles. Lawmakers considered making the humble sugar cookie Ohio's official state cookie.

Yes, but: Sometimes these efforts are successful.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to note that the official state sugar cookie designation was considered by lawmakers, but never officially passed.


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