Weekly Legislative Report: A new Justice and a new candidate for Justice

​Feb. 1, 2018

A New Justice 

As of last Fri. at midnight, Justice Bill O’Neill, quietly rolled off the Ohio Supreme Court as his previously-announced resignation took effect. On Sun. Youngstown’s Judge Mary DeGenaro, who most recently served as a Judge for the Seventh District Court of Appeals, was sworn in to replace him. DeGenaro, an announced candidate in the Republican primary election for the Ohio Supreme Court, was Governor John Kasich’s pick to fill the vacancy. He cited her 17-year record on the appellate bench, her previous experience as a visiting justice on the Supreme Court, her work as a Youngstown State University adjunct professor and her 14 years private practice (he also noted that she is an amateur beekeeper). With Justice DeGenaro’s appointment, women have retaken the Court majority and all justices are now Republican, at least until the next election.

A New Candidate for Justice 

If Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Melody Stewart of Cleveland has her way, the Court won’t be solely Republican for long. Judge Stewart made it known this week that she will be seeking the Democratic nomination for Ohio Supreme Court. Stewart has served on the Court of Appeals since 2006 and if elected, would be the first African American woman elected to the High Court and the second African American woman to serve, following former Justice Yvette McGee Brown.

The filing deadline for candidates is next Wed. and there are two Ohio Supreme Court seats up. So far, in addition to Justice DeGenaro, Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge Craig Baldwin has announced he will be seeking the Republican nomination. And in addition to Judge Stewart, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly is seeking the Democratic nomination. While we know the likely candidates for the Primary, it is unclear as of this writing (and likely will be until the paperwork is turned in) who is filing for which seat and thus, who each will face in the General Election.  

Former Chief Justice’s Legacy Honored 

Last Friday, the OSBA’s Moyer Legacy Committee sponsored its inaugural Lecture Series event with the Columbus Metropolitan Club, featuring Central Ohio members of Congress Joyce Beatty and Steve Stivers. The topic was Bipartisan Civility and if you needed any evidence that people are clamoring for more of it, please note that more than 300 attended the luncheon! Beatty and Stivers announced a new “Civility and Respect Caucus” they have formed in an effort to spread not only their brand of bipartisanship to their colleagues, but also the spirit of civility (how to disagree without being disagreeable) to the public they serve.

The event was also a great opportunity for Chairman Steve Stover to tout the great work of the Moyer Committee and its continued mission to serve as a lasting legacy to Chief Justice Moyer by sustaining and enhancing the most important tenants for which he stood: legal education, civics education, dispute resolution, personal integrity, ethics, civility, judicial independence and the rule of law. The Committee hopes to sponsor more events like this in the future, partnering with other civic organizations around the state. You can watch the “Bipartisan Civility” talk by visiting the Columbus Metropolitan Club website: http://bit.ly/2nn3uiJ.

The Legislators Are Coming!

This Friday the winter OSBA committee and section meetings continue. Members won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear from Representative Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) who will be joining the Juvenile Law Committee to discuss House Bill 394, legislation he is sponsoring that would eliminate mandatory bindovers and make modification to discretionary bindovers. Additionally, Representative Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) will be visiting with the Health Care Law Committee to discuss pending health care legislation, including Senate Bill 55, which proposes setting limits on the number of patients a registered nurse may care for at one time, as well as two bills for which she is a primary sponsor: House Bill 302, which would allow women under the age of 18 to consent to prenatal care without requiring a permission from a guardian, and House Bill 397, which would mandate that Ohio add Spinal Muscular Atrophy to the newborn screening panel.

The Health Care Law Committee meets at 11:00 am and the Juvenile Law Committee meets at 2:00, both at the OSBA HQ. Committee members who cannot attend in person, also have a call in option. You can find more details in the committees’ respective online member communities at https://connect.ohiobar.org. There you can also join these fine committees if you are not yet a member. All 43 committees and sections provide a great forum to meet policy makers, learn the latest in your practice area and weigh in on current public policy concerns. Don’t miss out!

Of Interest from the House Floor 

Among the bills passed by the House this week were House Bill 341, legislation which would include judges as individuals whose residential and familial information is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Law. Senate Bill 70, which would update the state's child support laws, also passed the House. 

Redistricting Talks "Fluid" 

Though they introduced a new version of redistricting reform this week, Senate Republicans have yet to reach a deal with Democrats and the Fair Districts=Fair Elections Coalition. They are hoping for a bipartisan deal and to prevent the organization from moving forward with its own proposal via referendum. We'll keep you posted.  

Week Ahead   

The Senate has slated an if-needed day for Tues. Feb. 6 with full session planned for Wed. Feb. 7. The Ohio House also has session scheduled for Wed. Feb. 7 and an if-needed day on Thurs. Feb. 8. But the big show will be the filing deadline for the May Primary Election this Wed. Nov. 7.

Tracking OSBA Legislation   

You can track OSBA priority bills and bills we are watching via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org




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