Weekly Legislative Report: Will Richard Cordray make a run for governor?

​Nov. 16, 2017

Will He? Won’t He? 

Will former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray make a run for governor? That’s the question his fellow Ohio Democrats and Statehouse insiders have been asking for some time. He provided a pretty good indication this week in announcing that by month’s end, he will be leaving his current post as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many have speculated that this means a candidate declaration is soon to follow.  
 
How this will impact the candidacies of the previously announced Democratic contenders, including State Senator Joe Schiavoni, former State Representative Connie Pillich, former U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill is yet to be seen. Justice O’Neill, who announced his intent to file for Governor earlier this month, has said repeatedly that he would not run if Cordray was in the race.  
 
Whether he continues on or not, O’Neill’s candidacy has already injected some spice into the contest, with questions being raised about whether or not he should step down from the bench now that he is a candidate for a non-judicial office. OSBA is reviewing this.  O’Neill has said he would resign his seat when he formally files his petitions for Governor in February, and in the meantime, he will recuse himself from any new cases. Meanwhile, State Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) has charged that in announcing his intent to run for Governor, O’Neill is violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Antani has filed a resolution with the House Clerk’s office to summon O’Neill before the Ohio General Assembly—the first step in the process of removing him from office under Article IV, Section 17 of the Ohio Constitution (a provision which has never been used). It would take a two-thirds vote from each chamber to complete the job, but so far, the effort doesn’t seem to be gaining a lot of traction.   ​

Debate Continues Surrounding the Solicitation of Accident Victims—What Do You Think?

The Senate Local Government, Public Safety & Veterans Affairs Committee held its third public hearing on Senate Bill 148, legislation sponsored by Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) that would require an accident report to indicate whether any person involved in the accident wishes to be contacted for commercial solicitation purposes, as well as prohibit anyone from using the information contained in the report when the individual did not agree to be contacted.   
 
The bill has galvanized an interesting mix of proponents and opponents including victims, law enforcement, chiropractors and attorneys on both sides of the issue. Some believe that the bill is important for protecting accident victims from unwanted and invasive solicitations, and that it will help improve the reputation of attorneys by curbing the "ambulance chasing" stigma. Others oppose the bill, believing Ohio should preserve the open marketplace of information so that victims can know their rights before agreeing to quick insurance settlements, and that consumer protections already exist when it comes to the deceptive marketing some have cited as a reason to adopt the bill. 
 
Recognizing the diversity of opinion among OSBA members, the OSBA has not taken a formal position on the bill; however, there is some concern about whether the General Assembly should be getting involved in regulating the practice of law when it could potentially be addressed by the Supreme Court Board of Professional Conduct.  
 
What do you think? Weigh in by contacting OSBA Senior Director of Policy and Government Affairs Todd Book at TBook@Ohiobar.org

More Statehouse Resignations for “Inappropriate” Behavior 

With charges of sexual harassment rocking Hollywood, the media, and the race for U.S. Senate in Alabama, the Ohio Statehouse has not been immune from scandal. This week, State Representative Wes Goodman (R-Cardington) abruptly resigned his seat for “inappropriate behavior related to his state office,” and the chief of staff for the Senate Democratic Caucus was also forced to resign under concerns of “inappropriate conduct towards staff…” Ohio Senate Republicans are also seeking a replacement for former Senator Cliff Hite, who resigned in October after admitting to “inappropriate behavior” with a female state employee.  
 
Both Senate President Larry Obhoff and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger have said they have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and misconduct and plan to implement annual sexual harassment and workplace discrimination training.

OSBA Resource on Sexual Harassment and the Law 

The OSBA’s Law You Can Use public information column Understanding Duties and Rights Regarding Sexual Harassment, originally authored by Marc Fishel of Fishel Hass Kim Albrecht LLP and updated by Jeffrey Vardaro of the Gittes Law Group, is an excellent resource for those looking for a quick primer on this area of law. It has been published in various newspapers around Ohio this month.    
 
We appreciate all our member authors who support the OSBA in its continued efforts to provide reliable legal information to consumers and the media, hundreds of thousands of whom visit the OSBA’s website annually. If you would be interested in contributing to the extensive Law You Can Use library, please contact Annie Yamson at ayamson@ohiobar.org.

Tracking OSBA Legislation 

As always, track OSBA priority bills via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.

Week Ahead 

We have it on good authority that those involved in the executive, legislative and judicial branches on both sides of the aisle will all be taking some time next week to enjoy holiday fare and count their blessings. As a result, there will be no OSBA Weekly Legislative Report. On behalf of the entire team here, Happy Thanksgiving!

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