Weekly Legislative Report: No Ohio General Assembly sessions until September

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​July 26, 2018

OK, we really mean it this time. With the House’s 60-24 concurrence vote on the payday lending crackdown House Bill 123 on Wednesday, don’t plan on seeing the Ohio General Assembly in session until mid-September when both chambers have “if-needed” days scheduled.

This week’s session was hastily added by Speaker Ryan Smith last week, primarily to complete work on the payday lending bill, but House members also used the opportunity to concur on less contentious bills, including changes to House Bill 34, sponsored by Representatives Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) and Scott Ryan (R-Granville Township), allowing some agencies to deliver certain notices by ordinary mail and electronically instead of by certified mail, and House Bill 254, sponsored by Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), which will require the POW/MIA flag to be displayed at certain buildings operated by the state on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans’ Day.

You can read more about the latest version of payday lending from our previous report. No word yet on when the Governor will be unpacking his pens to take up the three new bills on his desk.

Drug treatment issue makes the ballot while OSBA Opiate Response Task Force begins its work 

As legislative business winds down, election season is winding up. This week Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that we will have a statewide issue on the ballot — the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment (as dubbed by its proponents) seeks to reduce criminal penalties for some drug offenses and promote rehabilitation over incarceration. Both Senate President Larry Obhoff and House Speaker Ryan Smith, though indicating legislators may be inclined to support some of the proposals contained therein, expressed concerns with the proposal suggesting that these issues would be better handled in statute rather than by amending the Ohio Constitution. Nevertheless, with proponents having collected the required number of signatures (as required by the Constitution) the Ohio Ballot Board will review the language in coming weeks to get State Issue 1 ready for the ballot.

Ohioans will weigh the merits of the plan and the approach of the drug treatment amendment at the same time a new OSBA Opiate Response Task Force will begin its work. Established in June by the Board of Governors and chaired by OSBA Past President Ron Kopp, these OSBA members will be looking at ways the OSBA can help in responding to the opiate epidemic, paying particular attention to drug courts, criminal sentencing, treatment and child welfare issues. The Task Force is expected have recommendations back by February.  

This effort will enhance and build upon what the OSBA is already doing to educate and convene judges, attorneys and other stakeholders as Ohio combats this epidemic. This includes a successful opiates summit in 2017 and a daylong CLE program in May, featuring Sam Quinones, a journalist and author of the highly acclaimed book Dreamland, which tells the back story of how the opiates problem became a nationwide epidemic. If you were unable to attend these programs, they are still available for viewing and self-study CLE credit here and here. And be sure to check out the OSBA opiate resources page.

Congrats Judge Davies! 

Be sure to congratulate fellow OSBA member Judge Albert E. Davies of St. Clarisville, who was recently appointed by Governor John Kasich to serve as a judge on the Belmont County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile and Probate Division. Judge Davies currently serves as judge on the Belmont County Court, Western Division and previously served as solicitor for the village of Dillonvale, law director for the city of St. Clairsville, and general counsel for numerous school districts in the Belmont County area. In addition to being a member of the OSBA, he is a past president of the Belmont County Bar Association. He replaces Judge J. Mark Costine, also an OSBA member, who retired in May due to ongoing health issues. Judge Davies will take office on August 6 and must run this November to complete the remainder of the unexpired term, which runs through February 2021.

We thank Judge Costine for his 39 years in public service and wish him good health. You can read more about his legacy in the Wheeling Intelligencer

Week Ahead 

It’s that special time of year when the entire state celebrates the role of agriculture in our economy, the importance of wholesome family fun, and well, the butter cow! That’s right, the 2018 Ohio State Fair opened on Wednesday. It runs from July 25 until Sunday, Aug. 5. We don’t have the space in this report to cover all that the fair offers to every kind of legal professional, so we’ll send you to the official webpage to pick your favorite activities and food stuffs. But, we would be remiss (Aviation Law Committee) if we did not mention the fair’s first-ever timed drone racing competition on Sunday, the “Marvelous Mutts” “Canine Splashtacular” ​(Animal Law Committee), with shows daily in Kiddieland, and the new food offering “Dragon’s Breath,” which is reportedly a liquid nitrogen dessert that causes smoke to bellow from the consumer’s nostrils and mouth. This may be one to watch (Negligence Law Committee) as some health officials and doctors have advised against consuming it because of dangers to the mouth, esophagus and stomach. Eek!

Oh, and while you are at the fair, be sure to stop by the Ohio State Bar Foundation​’s table! 

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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