Weekly Legislative Report: All four Supreme Court candidates sign “Clean Campaign” pledge

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​Aug. 9, 2018

You heard it here first! The four candidates running for two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court this November — Judge Craig Baldwin, Justice Mary DeGenaro, Judge Michael P. Donnolly and Judge Melody Stewart — have all signed the OSBA Judicial Election Campaign Advertising Monitoring Committee’s (JECAMC) Clean Campaign Pledge in which they have agreed not only to conduct their campaigns in accordance with Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, but also to disavow any third party advertising in their respective races that run afoul of these high standards. Read our press release here

Since 2002, the JECAMC has monitored election advertising in Ohio Supreme Court elections, speaking out when it has encountered communications that impugn the integrity of the court or attempt to lead people to think a candidate might decide a case in a predetermined manner. The OSBA felt the need to step up during a particularly dark time in Ohio judicial elections when partisan advertising, primarily by third party interests, were undermining public trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

This continued vigilance and proactive approach by the OSBA’s committee — getting campaigns on board before the election heats up — has made a significant difference in improving the tone of judicial elections in Ohio. A BIG thanks to all members of the JECAMC for their time and willingness to serve the profession and their fellow Ohioans in this manner!

12th District Special Election a nail biter​

No matter which way you wanted it to go, the Special Election for the 12th Congressional District was a real n​ail biter. The polling was predicting a tie and well, it ended in a virtual tie. After ballots were counted on election night (and the next day when Franklin County found some ballots in one precinct which it then promptly counted and added to the total), State Senator Troy Balderson, the Republican was up by 1,754 votes over Danny O’Connor, the Democrat who is currently Franklin County Recorder. For much of the evening O’Connor was up, boosted heavily by early voters and voter-rich Franklin County. Balderson made up the difference in the more rural counties, which he won handily. It came down to Delaware County, which Balderson also won, but by a much smaller margin.

Delaware, as you will recall, was the site of the Trump rally for Balderson the weekend before the election. Some pundits say the visit energized Republicans to turn out. Others believe it energized Democrats. But from President Trump’s perspective, he absolutely delivered the race for Balderson, and he said so in a post-election tweet.
 
So where does this leave us? Well, it’s far from over. With up to 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots and  3,435 outstanding provisional ballots left to sort out, the race could still swing O’Connor’s way before the official certification. And that means dedicated election attorneys on either side will be watching this process very closely! Under Ohio law, the county boards of election may not count the absentee or provisional ballots until the 11th day after the election, allowing them to include military ballots that may have arrived after election day, verify that the absentee ballots were postmarked by election day (and therefore valid for counting), and giving those voters who voted provisionally because they did not provide proper ID at the polls to return to their county board and show their ID to make their ballot count. And, lest we forget, whomever emerges as the victor will have only a three-month guarantee on the job. And they’ll be campaigning the whole time as the two candidates face each other again on the November general election ballot, when control of the U.S. House of Representatives will be very much in play.

We‘ll leave you (and this topic) with two more “fun facts,” you can use to impress your friends and colleagues. An automatic recount is triggered in Ohio if the final, certified vote is within .5 percent. It could happen! Also, though he didn’t get a lot of attention, Joe Manchik, the Green Party candidate in the race, garnered 1,127 votes. Though these ballots don’t quite make up the differential between the two major party candidates, keep watching how the numbers go in the weeks ahead. Mr. Manchik may become less and less popular among the Democratic party faithful who would have liked to see his votes in O’Connor's column.

Meanwhile, Kasich signs some bills, vetoes another

While our Supreme Court candidates were signing the clean campaign pledge, Governor Kasich was using his pen in very different ways. As he was clearing off his desk of bills passed by the General Assembly during their last spurt of legislative activity, he signed nine measures into law (see list below); let Senate Bill 81, which made various gun law changes, take effect without his signature to make a statement about the need for “common-sense” gun law reforms; and vetoed Senate Bill 221 — proposed changes to agency rule-making powers.

His veto of SB221 contributes to Capitol Square talk of a nagging rift between the Republican governor and Republican legislative leaders. They did not see eye to eye on the Medicaid expansion; they have traded barbs on a recent executive order adding more agricultural regulations to limit fertilizer runoff in the Great Lakes; and in addition to the veto last week, this week the legislative leaders are questioning Kasich’s new plan to reduce the amount of income tax withheld from Ohioans’ paychecks in November, saying we should take a more wait-and-see approach to determine how and if the projected state surpluses materialize. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Other bills signed into law: 
  • House Bill 347 – a road-naming omnibus bill 
  • Senate Bill 220 – a cybersecurity measure that provides business liability protection if they institute certain practices 
  • House Bill 34 – allowing use of ordinary mail rather than certified mail for certain official notices 
  • House Bill 312 – regulating the governments’ use of credit and debit cards 
  • House Bill 336 – creating a driver’s license reinstatement fee debt reduction and amnesty program 
  • House Bill 87 – relating to charter and online schools 
  • House Bill 318 – setting standards for school resource officers and limiting the use of suspension and expulsions for children in third grade and below 
  • Senate Bill 216 – a deregulatory measure for K-12 schools 
  • House Bill 254 – requiring the POW/MIA flag to be displayed on certain days

Thanks for the memories, Wayne County!

OSBA Assistant Executive Director for Policy and Public Affairs Todd Book was back in Wooster by popular demand, giving a CLE-credit-worthy presentation before the Wayne County Bar Association on the above, and all other, Ohio government happenings of interest to hard-working attorneys. (As an aside, and for those keeping score, despite one J. Douglas Drushal’s threats, he was unable to prevail against Mr. Book on the golf course). He may not be willing to help you with your golfing handicap, but Todd would be more than happy to travel to a town near you to present to your local bar or organization on the latest coming out of the Statehouse. Contact him directly at tbook@ohiobar.org.

Week ahead​

The Ohio General Assembly remains on break, but not the members of the OSBA! Be on the lookout for the OSBA Commission on Judicial Candidates ratings of the candidates for Supreme Court.

Tracking OSBA legislation

As always, you can always track bills we are watching and OSBA priority legislation via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.​

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