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Ohio Statehouse Update: Week in Review — January 11, 2013

1. House and Senate commence 130th General Assembly

The Ohio House and Senate kicked off the start of the 130th General Assembly on January 7, 2013. The Senate welcomed Senators Randy Gardner (R- Bowling Green), who is no stranger to the Statehouse having served previous terms in the chamber, and Joe Uecker (R- Loveland) as the most recent additions to the legislative body.

Senator Keith Faber (R- Celina) was sworn in as president of the Senate during the chamber’s opening day ceremony. As president, Senator Faber will oversee the 33-seat chamber. The Senate majority leadership team was also sworn in at Monday’s session. Members include: Senator Chris Widener (R- Springfield) as president pro tempore, the number two in the Senate; Senator Tom Patton (R- Strongsville) continues as majority floor leader; and Senator Larry Obhof (R- Medina) as majority whip.

The Senate minority caucus leadership team remains unchanged with Senator Eric Kearney (R- Cincinnati) continuing to serve as minority leader. Additional leadership members are Senator Joe Schiavoni (D- Youngstown), as assistant minority leader; Senator Nina Turner (D- Cleveland), as minority whip; and Senator Edna Brown (D- Toledo), as assistant minority whip.

The House saw little change to leaders in either caucus with Speaker William Batchelder continuing to lead the 99 member chamber. Representative Matt Huffman (R- Lima) will serve as speaker pro tempore; Representative Barbara Sears (R- Sylvania) as majority floor leader; Representative John Adams (R- Sidney) as assistant majority floor leader; Representative Cheryl Grossman (R- Grove City) as majority whip; and Representative Jim Buchy (R- Greenville), the newest member of leadership, sworn in as assistant majority whip.

The current leadership team for the House minority members returns with Representative Armond Budish (D- Beachwood) as minority leader; Representative Matt Szollosi (D- Oregon) as assistant minority leader; Representative Tracy Heard (D- Columbus) as minority whip; and Representative Debbie Phillips (D- Athens) as assistant minority whip.

The House welcomed 17 new representatives during its opening day ceremony. The 130th General Assembly will run through December 31, 2014.

2. Veteran Northeast Ohio Senator to lead powerful finance committee

Following opening day ceremonies, President Keith Faber announced Senator Scott Oelslager (R- North Canton), will serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the panel responsible for managing the development of Ohio’s biennial state budget bill. Senator Tom Sawyer (D- Akron) will remain ranking member on the committee.

“Scott is one of the most respected and experienced members of the Ohio Senate, having served more than 27 years as a state legislator,” said President Faber. “He brings an incredible wealth of institutional knowledge to the budget process, and, more importantly, he’ll provide a steady hand in guiding one of the most complex pieces of legislation the Senate will handle this year.”

Senator Oelslager became a member of the Ohio Senate in 1985 and went on to serve four additional terms. In 2002, he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. He returned to the Ohio Senate in 2011, where he most recently served on the Finance and Judiciary Committees and chaired the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee.

Governor John Kasich is expected to roll out his proposed two-year state operating budget on February 4, 2013. While the governor has not revealed the details of his proposal, sweeping tax reform and changes to the state’s school funding formula are among the issues that will be addressed. The bill will first receive deliberation in the House before making its way to the Senate for consideration. Senator Faber also announced the creation of three sub-committees of the Finance Committee:

  • Education to be chaired by Senator Gardner (R- Bowling Green)
  • Medicaid to be chaired by Senator David Burke (R- Marysville)
  • General Government to be chaired by Senator Bob Peterson (R- Sabina)

Additional Senate Committee chairs and ranking members include:

 Senate Committee Chair  Ranking Member
Agriculture Cliff Hite (R- Findlay)  Lou Gentile (D- Steubenville)
Civil Justice Bill Coley (R- Liberty Township) Edna Brown (D- Toledo)
Criminal Justice John Eklund (R- Munson Township) Joe Schiavoni (D- Canfield)
Commerce and Labor Kevin Bacon (R- Minerva Park) Edna Brown (D- Toledo)
Education Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering) Tom Sawyer (D- Akron)
Energy and Natural Resources Troy Balderson (R- Zanesville) Joe Schiavoni (D- Canfield)
Insurance and Financial Institutions Jim Hughes (R- Columbus) Nina Turner (D- Cleveland)
Medicaid, Health and Human Services Shannon Jones (R- Springboro) Capri Cafaro (D- Hubbard)
Public Safety, Local Government and Veteran’s Affairs Frank LaRose (R- Copley) Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood)
Public Utilities Bill Seitz (R- Cincinnati) Lou Gentile (D- Steubenville)
State Government Oversight and Reform David Burke (R- Marysville) Shirley Smith (D- Cleveland)
Transportation Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) Capri Cafaro (D- Hubbard)
Ways and Means Tim Schaffer (R- Lancaster) Charleta Tavares (D- Columbus)
Workforce and Economic Development Bill Beagle (R- Tipp City) Charleta Tavares (D- Columbus)

Committee chairs for the House are likely to be announced next week.

3. Strickland decides against rematch

Former Governor Ted Strickland announced this week he will not seek a rematch against Governor John Kasich in 2014. Strickland, who served one term as governor prior to losing his 2010 reelection bid, had been considering another run for the top state office.

Strickland’s announcement clears the way for other democrat challengers, who had been waiting on the former governor’s decision prior to deciding whether to run against Governor Kasich.

Among those mentioned as possible challengers to Governor Kasich are: Cuyahoga County Executive Edward Fitzgerald; Congressman Tim Ryan (D- Niles); former Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D- Copley Township); and Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray.

The potential candidates are likely to announce their decision on whether they will run in the near future so fundraising can commence for what is expected to be an expensive campaign.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Caputo
(non-attorney professional)

Rebecca M. Kuhns
(non-attorney professional)

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