Some state bills may return next year

COLUMBUS — Ohio lawmakers ended their two-year legislative session this month with a flurry of action.
Still, many hot-button proposals faltered, fizzled or got pushed into the new year. Here’s a look at
some issues that could come back with General Assembly members when they return Jan. 5.
Republican Gov. John Kasich pledged throughout the 2014 campaign that he had no intention of acting on
right-to-work legislation that would limit the power of Ohio labor unions, and he made good on his word.
Two separate bills introduced during the latest session would have prohibited requiring workers to join
or pay automatic dues to either a public- or private-sector union. They went nowhere.
A bill that would have imposed some of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions failed in an
Ohio House floor vote, delivering a blow to supporters. The chamber had passed the so-called heartbeat
bill in a previous session.
The legislation would restrict most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat — as early as six
weeks into pregnancy. The GOP-led Senate has had no plans to act on it, though that has not deterred
Faith2Action executive director Janet Folger Porter, the measure’s champion, isn’t likely to give up next
Ohioans were a spark away from legal access to consumer-grade fireworks when a procedural snag
extinguished the bill. The measure is likely to be reintroduced next year.
Current state law bans residents from setting off bottle rockets, Roman candles and other recreational
fireworks. While the items can be bought in Ohio, they must be transported out-of-state within 48 hours
after purchase. Sen. Dave Burke, the bill’s sponsor, said that law is largely ignored and not enforced.
He said his bill would give Ohioans the freedom to celebrate their “national pride and joy.” Chiefs of
police, fire officials and former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery were among the opponents.
With legislative support, Kasich is expected to take steps to lift Ohio’s driving penalties for marijuana
A 1990 federal law requires a six-month suspension or revocation of a driver’s license after a drug
offense conviction. Kasich is expected to use a resolution passed by lawmakers in requesting federal
clearance for Ohio to opt out of the law. Under federal law, the U.S. transportation secretary can
withhold 8 percent of Ohio’s highway funding if the state doesn’t either enforce the law or request an
Kasich is expected to reintroduce severance tax hikes on hydraulic fracturing wells during the next
legislative session, marking his third attempt in as many budget cycles.
Kasich is able to pass muster with anti-tax groups by embedding the tax increases in tax reform packages
that reduce the overall tax burden. But he faces strong and vocal opposition from the well-funded
oil-and-gas industry, which says it is being singled out for tax treatment.