LIST: The lame-duck Ohio bills that passed late last night and earlier this week ahead of the holiday recess

Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Posted at 11:26 AM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 18:21:20-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While several high-profile bills that would have altered the State Board of Education’s role and banned trans athletes from participating in youth sports failed to pass Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers were up late into the early hours at the end of their lame-duck session Thursday morning, sending multiple pieces of legislation to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk before the House and Senate go on holiday recess.

Voter ID bill passes
A bill that was originally authored to get rid of certain election days and was expanded to require photo IDs for in-person voting and codifying a limit on ballot drop boxes passed the House and Senate this week and now heads to Gov. DeWine’s desk.

“No longer will showing a random bank statement or utility bill be good enough to cast a ballot in our state,” state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, said on the Senate floor.

House Bill 458 would also require completed mail-in ballots to arrive within four days of Election Day, instead of 10. The absentee voting period is also shortened from three days before the election to a week before.

Curbside voting will also be removed as an option for voters, except those with a disability rendering them “physically unable to enter a polling place.”

RELATED: Voter ID requirements inserted into special election bill, passed by Senate

Bill preventing city bans on tobacco products passes
Early Thursday morning, the Ohio House passed a tobacco bill that includes a measure that prevents cities from prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, giving the state regulatory control.

State Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said the bill, HB 513, is needed to keep jurisdictions from picking "winners and losers in retail,” the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

"We want to sit here and say you can't buy this and you can't buy that," Cross said.

The amendment to the state tobacco legislation reads: “The regulation of tobacco products and alternative nicotine products is a matter of general statewide concern that requires statewide regulation.”

Sweeping criminal justice reform bill passes
A bill that combined several other bills covering everything from cellphone use while driving to sexual abuse education in schools was passed by lawmakers Thursday morning.

SB 288 included HB 105, known as Erin’s Law, which will add age-appropriate sexual abuse and violence prevention education in schools, as well as staff training for the instruction of these courses.

News 5 coverage results in progress for child sex abuse prevention bill after 10 years stalled in OH Senate

“This version of it contains a parental opt-out, which some of the conservative groups thought was very important to include," Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said. "So we are letting those parents that don't want their children to be educated about such things to opt out."

According to a news release from the Ohio Senate, the bill also includes key reforms to:

  • Increase credit eligibility from current 8% to 15% in reduction of prison term for active participation or completion of constructive programs, helping accelerate an eligible offenders success after release. 
  • Modify the current "Good Samaritan" law by expanding immunity from prosecution for minor drug possession offenses. 
  • Strengthen penalties for domestic violent offenders by increasing the penalties from strangulation or suffocation to a felony domestic violence conviction.

The strangulation bill and similar versions of it have languished in the legislature for years and have been the subject of multiple investigations by News 5 investigator Sarah Buduson.


Strangled: How Ohio fails to protect the public from the most dangerous criminals

The distracted driving bill that passed the Ohio House overwhelmingly last month was also included in this senate bill. It would make using an electronic device while driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop and cite drivers solely for that offense.

RELATED: Ohio House passes enhanced distracted driving law; bill moves to state senate

Enhanced distracted driving law passes Ohio House

SB 288 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Nov. 30 and in the House Thursday morning, with just seven GOP members voting against it.

$6 billion in federal COVID relief doled out
The final vote of the night – or, more accurately, morning – was an approval of $6 billion in federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports it included $1.75 billion for K-12 schools, $740 million for the state's rainy day fund, $498.5 million for child care, including $313 million directly for providers and $350 million for nursing homes to address the workforce shortage.

Each of these pieces of legislation now heads to DeWine's desk for signing.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.