Ohio Bill Fighting Guide

This page is intended to help activists understand the process of the Ohio Legislature and how to fight a bill.

BILL TRACKING

The first stop in understanding the legislature is checking out the Ohio Legislature website.

The Ohio Legislature Website: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/

On the front page of the Ohio Legislature site are a few options. You can search bills by number; you can also find your representative by typing in your zip code.

You can also click on the "Legislation" tab and search bills there; under "subjects" select "Crimes, Corrections, & Law Enforcement: All" and look through all the bills. Most likely any sex offender bills will be in this section. Unfortunately, since the legislative site removed the "keyword" search, finding sex offender bills may be more difficult than in the past.

Until the Ohio Legislature website brings back the Keyword Search, this is the most likely way
to find Sex Offender-related bills.
"HB" means the bill was introduced by the House of Representatives. "SB" means the bill was introduced by the Senate.

Once you find a bill and you wish to either support to protest a bill, you need to check its status. Your job fighting a bill is easier if you catch the bill early, when it is assigned to a "Standing Committee" (because at that point, you'll have to convince fewer legislators that a bill is bad).

HOUSE STANDING COMMITTEES -- http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/standing-committees
SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE -- http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/senate-standing-committees

If you oppose a bill that passes committee, all is not lost, but now you'll have to convince the entire House/ Senate the bill is bad. If an HB passes the House, it moves to the Senate, and an SB passing the Senate moves to the House, giving you one more chance to stop the bill. A bill that passes both House AND Senate is then sent to the Governor to sign. That's a last chance to stop the bill but the Governor rarely vetoes a bill. Consider bills a fire-- it is easier to put it out when it is not allowed to spread.

If you want to see the legislative process in a picture form, you can click the following link: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/publications/the-legislative-process

And an in-depth discussion about how bills become law in Ohio can be found on the Ohio Legislative site here: http://www.lsc.ohio.gov/guidebook/chapter5.pdf

READING A BILL

When checking on a bill, there are two main things to look at to understand . First, on the front page of the bill, under the section that will read "A BILL" in all caps, will give a brief summary of the bill. Here is 2015 HB 56 as an example:

A BI L L
To amend sections 124.11, 124.25, 124.26, 124.34, 329.021, 4121.121, 5123.08, and 5139.02 and to enact section 9.73 of the Revised Code to limit the use of criminal records in the hiring and employment practices of public employers.

Ok, this bill is a "ban the box" bill. This is potentially a good bill for Registered Citizens, as it would open up some "public employer" (government related) jobs in the state.

Now, the content of the bill itself will consist of the various amended states within the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) as it would read IF the bill passes. The complete statutes to be amended are written out in their entirety. However, changes are shown in two ways:

1. Text to be ADDED to the ORC are UNDERLINED 
2. Text to be REMOVED from the ORC will be represented with STRIKETHROUGH.

Here is a section from 2015 HB 56 that is has both underline and strikethrough sections.

Sec. 124.25. The director of administrative services shall require persons applying for an examination for original appointment in the service of the state to file with the director or the director's designee, within reasonable time prior to the examination, a formal application, in which the applicant shall state the applicant's name, address, and such other information as may reasonably be required concerning the applicant's education and experience. No inquiry shall be made as to religious or political affiliations or as to racial or ethnic origin of the applicant, except as necessary to gather equal employment opportunity or other statistics that, when compiled, will not identify any specific individual. No inquiry shall be made as to the criminal background of the applicant. The director or the director's designee may notify an applicant of any provision of the Revised Code or federal law that disqualifies an individual with a particular criminal history from employment in a particular position. Blank forms for applications shall be furnished by the director or the director's designee without charge to any person requesting the same. The director or the director's designee may require in connection with such application such certificate of persons having knowledge of the applicant as the good of the service demands. The director or the director's designee may refuse to appoint or examine an applicant, or, after an examination, refuse to certify the applicant as eligible, who is found to lack any of the established preliminary requirements for the examination, who is addicted to the habitual use of intoxicating liquors or drugs to excess, who has a pattern of poor work habits and performance with previous employers, who has been convicted of a felony, who has been guilty of infamous or notoriously disgraceful conduct, who has been dismissed from either branch of the civil service for delinquency or misconduct, or who has made false statements of any material fact, or practiced, or attempted to practice, any deception or fraud in the application or examination, in establishing eligibility, or securing an appointment.

The Ohio Legislature is kind enough to provide a more in-depth report on how to read and understand a bill. You can find the guide here: http://www.lsc.ohio.gov/guidebook/chapter6.pdf

FIGHTING A BILL

If you see a bill that looks bad, you have a very narrow window in which to fight the bill. Generally, once a bill is introduced it is assigned to a Standing Committee. Every Friday during active sessions, the committee posts its schedule for the next week. So, if you are looking to fight a bill, you want to be in that committee meeting. You may have to request in advance to speak before the committee; if so, you'll likely have to call the clerk of the committee to make that request.

The best time to fight bills is in the initial stage because committees are relatively small in number. Most committee hearings meet in the afternoon. There is not a strict time limit on testifying, though they want the testimony to be reasonable. Also, they want a written testimony to accompany your testimony. (You an read your testimony out loud if you want.)

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