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Senate's top 10 hot items in a freezing January

An update on issues, bills, and moments that matter to Ohioans
By The Editors
January 19, 2024
On The Record

Work in the Ohio Senate has been heating up even as temperatures have dropped below freezing. Senators have been busy in Columbus, and across the state, introducing new legislation, meeting with constituents, and ensuring that all Ohioans are supported, protected, and have their voices heard. Here’s a brief update on the top 10 items in Jnauary, so far. 

1.     Keeping Kids Safe from Online Porn

Senator Stephanie Kunze introduced Senate Bill 212 to restrict minors' access to pornographic websites by requiring age verification.

This legislation adds safeguards to prevent Ohio’s most vulnerable population, our children, from exposure to explicit material.

This bill requires age verification through an independent, third-party service, but will prohibit it from retaining personal information after access has been granted or denied. 

2.     Creating an alternative for individuals with developmental disabilities

Senator Jerry Cirino introduced Senate Bill 213 to create an alternative to guardianship for individuals with developmental disabilities who are capable of making their own important life decisions with the help of others.

Many families already use supported decision-making but there are benefits to recognizing it in law.

This legislation will protect these individuals from exploitation by allowing them to make their own important decisions while simply receiving input and assistance from those closest to them.

Individuals using this option will not be required to surrender their financial accounts or assets, unlike the terms under guardianships or powers of attorney.

3.     Increasing professional opportunities for dietitians

Senator Roegner introduced Senate Bill 211, which would enter Ohio into the Dietician Licensure Compact. If Ohio enters, this bill will allow dieticians from other member states to practice here.

It would also allow Ohio dieticians to practice in other member states, creating more opportunities for professionals and increasing access to care for Ohioans.

The compact will be active once enacted into law by seven states.  

4.    Keeping kids safe from marijuana derivatives

Senators are waiting to see if the House will approve changes to a bill that would allow Ohioans immediate access to regulated marijuana products. House Bill 86 would also prevent minors from purchasing currently unregulated products containing marijuana derivatives.

Currently, it is extremely easy for anyone to buy these derivative products online or even at local gas stations. So easy a teenager can do it. Just ask the Governor and Director of Public Safety. 

House Bill 86 was sent to the Ohio House in December with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. 

The Senate will continue fighting for HB 86 or, if necessary, take up legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Huffman to prevent access by minors to currently unregulated products containing marijuana derivatives.

5.     Greater Cincinnati’s first new hospital in nearly a decade

State Senator Steve Wilson attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Mercy – Health Kings Mills Hospital this month.

This is the first hospital to be built in the Greater Cincinnati area in nearly a decade. The hospital will provide emergency care, general and orthopedic surgery, an intensive care unit, and is positioned for expansion as the demand for care grows.

This hospital addresses the need for acute care in the area and will result in better health outcomes for community members.

6.     Keeping bureaucracy in check

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review was back in action after the holidays this month. Co-Chair Senator Theresa Gavarone, Senator Andrew Brenner, and Senator Stephanie Kunze all serve on JCARR  in the 135th General Assembly. 

The committee members’ role is to review proposed new, amended, and rescinded rules from over 100 state agencies to ensure they do not overstep the rule-making authority granted to the by the Ohio General Assembly. 


7.     Landis makes valuable connections with local schools 

Senator Al Landis has been visiting schools and spending time with students, teachers, and administrators in his district.

He has been learning about the projects and lessons that students have undertaken since the beginning of the 2024 school year.

Senator Landis also met with local elected school board members, principals, and superintendents to better understands the needs of  local school districts and learn how he can serve them best in his role as their state senator. 

8.     Improving housing affordability and availability

Senator Michele Reynolds serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on Housing. The goal of this committee is to understand the current barriers facing Ohioans trying to attain the American dream of homeownership.

The committee is traveling across the state in order to better understand the hurdles and difficulties in  different regions of the state.

This month, the committee traveled to Cleveland and heard from local elected officials, organizations and residents about the current status of housing.  

Senators Reynolds, Blessing, Brenner, and Johnson serve on this committee; Senators Cirino and Lang have participated in hearings in their districts.

9.     What to expect in 2024

Senate President Matt Huffman joined All Sides with Anna Staver at WOSU to kick off 2024. They discussed Senate priorities, pending veto overrides, and more. You can listen to the interview here.  

10.     Senator Manning receives prestigious award

Senator Nathan Manning recently received the Robert E. Hughes Memorial Award from the Ohio Association of Election Officials.

The recognition is given each year to one Republican who has demonstrated significant efforts to improve elections in Ohio. A similar award is given to one Democrat.