Weekly Legislative Report: And then there were 10 candidates for Ohio governor

​Feb. 15, 2018

And then there were 10

...Candidates for Ohio governor, that is — two Republicans, seven Democrats and one Green Party contender —​ after former State Representative Connie Pillich bowed out of the Democratic primary this week to throw her support to Richard Cordray. Pillich indicated that she made the decision after watching the Ohio Republican Party coalesce behind Mike DeWine. On Friday, the Republican State Central Committee voted 59-2 to endorse DeWine over current Lt. Governor Mary Taylor. Will Pillich's gesture to party unity inspire others in the Democratic Primary to follow suit? We shall see.

Though some pundits have predicted 2018 to be the year of the woman, Pillich's decision means Mary Taylor is the only woman still running for Governor this cycle from a major political party (and as previously indicated, Taylor did not get her party's endorsement). Betty Sutton previously dropped out of the Democratic Primary to be Richard Cordray's running mate, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley decided to end her bid and support Cordray before the filing deadline. Constance Gadell-Newton is running under the Green Party banner.

Gender was a major point of contention at the meeting in which the Republican endorsements were made. Taylor was highly critical of her opponent and of the endorsement process, as was Sandra O'Brien, who is running for the Republican nomination for Treasurer of State. Her opponent, Representative Robert Sprague, ultimately secured the party's nod for Treasurer along with Auditor of state Dave Yost for Attorney General, Representative Keith Faber for Auditor of State and Senator Frank LaRose for Secretary of State, all of whom are unopposed in the primary leg of their races. In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Congressman Jim Renacci secured the party endorsement over his opponents Melissa Ackison, Mike Gibbons, Don Eckhart and Dan Kiley.

You can see a complete list of candidates who filed by visiting the Ohio Secretary of State's website, though nothing is official until county boards of elections have verified the signatures, which is expected to be next week.

Governor Kasich grants death row inmate a temporary reprieve

As 10 Ohioans are actively seeking to assume his gubernatorial responsibilities, Governor Kasich faced one responsibility previous governors often say is the most difficult -- to grant or withhold clemency for those on death row. Raymond Tibbetts, convicted of killing his wife and landlord in 1997, was scheduled for execution on Tuesday, Feb. 13. However, the Governor was persuaded by a letter he received from one of the jurors on the case expressing regret over the sentence, and announced late last week that he was granting a temporary reprieve so that the Ohio Parole Board can consider the letter. The juror wrote that he only learned of the inmate's history of abuse, abandonment and addiction during the clemency process, and not during the original trial. He also alleges an ineffective defense counsel, possible prosecutorial misconduct and flawed jury instructions among other concerns. Kasich is calling for a special hearing of the Parole Board prior to the new execution date in October. This marks the eighth time Tibbetts' execution has been rescheduled in the past three years.

"Sexting" ban has first hearing

This week, Representatives Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton) and Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) gave sponsor testimony on House Bill 355, legislation that seeks to ban sexting for those under 21, while giving prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys the ability to better differentiate who is pandering obscene material of minors and who is a teenager "making a bad choice." The bill was inspired by an unfortunate incident in Representative Hill's district where a young man was facing charges stemming from sexting with his girlfriend and ultimately committed suicide.

Under the bill, the teenager (if they have not been adjudicated or convicted of a sexual offense) could be eligible for a sexting educational diversion program or similar available program rather than face serious charges and consequences, including being labeled a sex offender. Such programs have proven successful in counties that have them according to the sponsors. The bill was amended in its first hearing to apply only when an offender is under the age of 19, the victim is a juvenile between the ages of 13 and 17, and the victim is no more than four years younger than the offender.

Representative Rezabek, who previewed this legislation when he spoke to the OSBA Juvenile Law Committee recently, said that the legislators are looking to strike the appropriate balance.

What do you think? The OSBA has not taken a formal position on this bill but would appreciate your thoughts and/or to hear about any experiences you have had with similar cases. Email Todd Book, OSBA Assistant Executive Director for Policy & Public Affairs at tbook@ohiobar.org.

Week Ahead  

The Senate will be in session on both the 20th and 21st. Meanwhile, the Ohio House will have a voting session only "if needed" on the 22nd. As always, you can track OSBA priority bills and bills we are watching via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.

Friday funeral for officers killed in line of duty

Finally, on a sad note, the funeral for Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, who were killed over the weekend in the line of duty, will take place tomorrow in Westerville. Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers' friends and families, as well as with the entire law enforcement community who put their lives on the line each day to protect us.




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