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2012 OSBA legislative review

Our government relations staff works every day with legislators and other state policy leaders on behalf of Ohio State Bar Association members to promote improvement of the law, our legal system and the administration of justice. We are responsible for advocating for substantive law and rule changes proposed by OSBA members. We also continuously monitor legislative and government activities that may be of interest to you. In the fall of 2012, the OSBA was able to move several important bills through the legislative process and weigh in on numerous Ohio Supreme Court rule changes. Below is information about all of these important proposals.

Legislation

For the first time in almost 50 years, minimum amounts required for valid proof of financial responsibility/auto insurance will be raised. House Bill 278 (Minimum Limits for Financial Responsibility) was signed by Governor Kasich on Dec. 20, 2012. OSBA has been working on getting this bill passed for more than 10 years. Many thanks to the members of the Insurance Law and Negligence Law Committees for their diligence in pushing this legislation.
 
Another highlight of 2012 also came in December as H.B. 461 was signed by the Governor. This bill was proposed by OSBA’s Family Law Committee to set statutory rules for collaborative family law. The legislation was also amended at the recommendation of OSBA's Ethics and Professionalism Committees to change Ohio's statutory rules that govern when the attorney-client privilege is waived. Kudos to the Family Law Committee members, particularly Elaine Buck, Maury White and Brian Urban, as well as Representative Gerald Stebelton for all of their work on this important piece of legislation.
 
OSBA was also successful in moving three other bills forward. House Bill 27 (Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act) was signed by the governor on Dec. 20 as well. The same is true for H.B. 247 (Uncollectable Amounts Due Courts), which will update and clarify the appropriate formalities required to nominate a guardian for (i) the nominator, (ii) the nominator’s minor children, or (iii) the nominator’s adult incompetent children. It will also make a technical change suggested by our Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section, and clarify legislation enacted earlier this year (H.B. 48) with regard to the fiduciaries duties owed by members of limited liability companies.
 
Additionally, OSBA Government Relations staff worked with members of the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Committee to pass H.B. 479 (Ohio Legacy Trust Act), which included an amendment to expand the concurrent jurisdiction of Ohio probate courts. We thank the team for being willing to amend the legislation to address concerns raised by OSBA's other committees and sections. House Bill 479 was signed by the governor on Dec. 20.  
 
OSBA has also been successful in affecting pending legislation. Government relations staff and OSBA practitioners worked with Senator Bill Coley and Representative Peter Stautberg to amend H.B. 610/S.B 388, which will be reintroduced next session. This bill would change Ohio’s laws governing receiverships. We thank both legislators for their willingness to address concerns raised. In addition, many thanks to practitioners Stephen R. Buchenroth, Paul E. Perry and Tyson Crist for all of their insight, time and willingness to draft amendments.
 
H.B. 265, which the OSBA opposed, did not advance this session. The bill would authorize prosecuting attorneys to demand a jury trial in a criminal case, notwithstanding a defendant's waiver of trial by jury and over a defendant's objection. OSBA Criminal Law Committee Chair Hon. Stephen McIntosh’s opponent testimony was much appreciated.

Supreme Court of Ohio Rules

Throughout 2012, the OSBA submitted numerous comment letters to the Ohio Supreme Court. We believe our members can offer a highly informed and balanced perspective on the rules governing the practice of law.
 
Proposed Amendments to Rules of Practice and Procedure
1. OSBA filed a comment letter with the Ohio Supreme Court opposing changes to Civ. R. 4 proposed by the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association requiring filing parties to complete service of process.
 
2. OSBA filed a comment letter with the Ohio Supreme Court recommending the proposed amendments to Civ. R. 10(D)(2), the affidavit of merit, and Evid. R. 601, General Rule of Competency (expert witness). 
 
3. Recognizing the need to balance access to justice with the complexity of the issues provided for in the proposed new Domestic Relations Forms for Pro Se Litigants, the OSBA requested an extension to provide comments to the Court on the proposed forms. The extension was granted, and in December, the OSBA submitted detailed comments on almost all of the proposed forms. We thank the OSBA family law practitioners for their time and willingness to comment on each form. 
 
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Superintendence
OSBA filed a comment letter in support of the proposed amendments to Sup. R. 49-49.12 to permanently establish commercial dockets in Ohio. Included in the letter were recommendations that the rules specifically allow for use of a special master and that staff also be assigned to commercial dockets. The OSBA commends the Ohio Supreme Court for moving forward with these rules.
 
Proposed Amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar
1. OSBA submitted a comment letter in support of the proposed amendments to the Gov. Bar R. I, V, VI, X, XII, XX and Appendix I, which would allow military attorneys not admitted in Ohio, but currently stationed in Ohio, to represent military clients before Ohio tribunals. The Court also incorporated in the amendment the suggested changes from the OSBA Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  
 
2. OSBA submitted a comment letter in support of amendments to Gov. Bar R. I, Sec. 9, which would eliminate the requirement that an applicant for admission without examination show specific intent to practice law in Ohio.
 
Should you have any questions, or need additional information about any of these enactments or comments, please contact us any time. Next year will also be a busy year for OSBA's legislative program, and we look forward to working with all of you.
 
William K. Weisenberg
Assistant Executive Director for Public Affairs,
Government Relations and Diversity Initiatives
(614) 487-4414
 
Mary Amos Augsburger
Legislative Counsel
(614) 487-4464
 
Jessica L. Tobias
Committee and Section Manager
(614) 487-4401
 

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