Weekly Legislative Report: House still fishing for a Speaker


​May 17, 2018

Last week we predicted that by this week we'd know who the next Speaker of the Ohio House would be...at least temporarily. However, this week, after a long caucus meeting, there was no consensus among House Republicans (that's 50 votes for you vote-counters out there) for any one candidate. Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), who has aspirations not only of being Speaker for the remainder of this year, but in the next legislative session, ultimately got 47 votes according to press reports of the closed-door meeting (after earning 42 on a first ballot), but there remain 18 in the caucus who either believe there should be an interim Speaker who is not running for the job next session, or who support Smith's opponent for the job, Representative Larry Householder (R-Glenford). Householder did not put his name forward for the interim job. The other candidates were Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville), who got three votes, and Representative Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), who got 20. After not reaching a decision on the interim Speaker, Wednesday's scheduled session was canceled. The vote for Speaker requires a vote of the full body and Smith may have been able to prevail on the floor; however, House Republicans, who hold a sizable majority did not want to hold the vote until they reach that 50-vote consensus in their own caucus and do not require Democratic votes to put the next Speaker across the finish line. Expect much arm-twisting among the 18 holdouts in the days to come.

Notary modernization act moves forward with OSBA amendments 

Meanwhile in the Ohio Senate, the Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee adopted a substitute bill and reported Senate Bill 263, the Notary Public Modernization Act, sponsored by Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Steve Wilson (R-Maineville). Last month, the OSBA, along with the consortium of metro bar associations, testified as proponents of this legislation, which would allow for e-notarization in Ohio as well as make the training and c​ommissioning of notaries more uniform across the state by centralizing it under the auspices of the Ohio Secretary of State's office. 

As part of the substitute version of the bill, the sponsors addressed concerns raised by our group of bar leaders, including the need to protect client confidentiality when the notary is an attorney, and providing that under the new training and testing requirements, attorneys (who can be notaries by virtue of being attorneys), will not be required to take an additional test to become a notary — the bar exam is test enough! The bill could get a vote by the full Senate as early as next week. We'll keep you posted on its progress.

EPTPL Section testifies for more improvements in probate law 

Our hard-working and prolific Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section (EPTPL) is back with several additional proposals in their efforts to improve and streamline probate law in Ohio. Last General Assembly (via House Bill 432, which took effect last April) the Section had such great success working with Representatives Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) that we've gotten the band back together for round two. House Bill 595 was introduced in April and EPTPL Chair Patti Laub joined the bill sponsors in testifying before the House Civil Justice Committee Wednesday in support of the bill (she did an outstanding job, we might add!). Also testifying in support of the bill was the Ohio Judicial Conference.

The bill would, among other things: 
  • Clarify and confirm when the terms of a trust may direct that the trustee and/or beneficiaries must settle disputes by arbitration; 
  • Clarify that the exception to the antilapse statutes preventing the creation of a substitute gift in the descendants of the deceased class member only applies if the defined class is multi-generational; and  
  • Add a new chapter and delete certain sections of the ORC to allow a living settlor to determine the validity of his or her trust, just as a living testator may determine the validity of his or her will under current law, as well as make some modifications to the provisions for testators, and coordinate the two sets of provisions into a single chapter.  

In addition to the OSBA provisions, probate judges pushed for two provisions to be included in the bill that would allow for the creation of a minor settlement trust that extends to the age of 25, and the extension of a tool that they believe is helpful for probate judges to reach out and find trained guardians.

You can view Chair Laub's testimony as well as that of the other proponents by visiting the House Civil Justice Committee's webpage and looking under May 16 (the date of the hearing), House Bill 595. House Bill 595 is a top priority for the OSBA. Keep following this report for progress updates.

Bills passed by the Ohio Senate this week 

The Ohio Senate passed a number of bills this week, many of which OSBA members have expressed an interest. Here are just a few: 

Senate Bill 171, sponsored by Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) would increase the penalty that applies to the offense of violating a protection order under certain circumstances and to require electronic monitoring of those convicted of violating certain protection orders to be carried out by probation agencies. Vote 31-0.

Senate Bill 220, sponsored by Senators Bob Hackett (R-London) and Kevin Bacon (R-Westerville) would provide a legal safe harbor to covered entities that implement a specified cybersecurity program. Vote 24-8. 

Senate Bill 268, sponsored by Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) would expand the increased penalties for theft in office based on the amount of property or services stolen and to include as restitution certain audit costs of the entity that suffered the loss involved in the offense. Vote 32-0.

In addition, House Bill 159, sponsored by Representative Craig Riedel (R-Defiance), which passed unanimously, would designate May as "Drive Ohio Byways Month." Why not?Get out there and enjoy this beautiful Ohio spring weather and we'll see you next week.

Week ahead

The Ohio Senate is scheduled to have a voting session on Wednesday, May 23, while the House has two session days scheduled — the 23rd and 24th. We'll see if they bring up the vote on the interim speaker, among other things.
Also, next week in this report, we'll talk a bit about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which ends the federal ban on sports betting, courtesy of a challenge from the state of New Jersey. It has interesting implications for Ohio's gambling scene.

Tracking OSBA Legislation

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




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