Legislative Watch – February 20, 2024

REMINDER: Voter Registration Deadline and Early Voting Dates for March 19, 2024, Primary Election

We wanted to remind you that today, Tuesday, February 20, 2024, is the deadline to register to vote for the March 19, 2024, Primary Election. Please see below for some important dates and links for information on voting in the upcoming Primary Election.

Important Dates

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024 – Deadline to register to vote and update registrations in advance of the March 19, 2024, primary election. Boards of Election will be open until 9:00 PM for individuals to drop off registrations. See below links for how to check your registration status, register to vote, or update your registration online.
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2024 – Early voting for the 2024 Primary Election begins.  See links below for in-person early voting locations, dates, and times.
  • Monday, March 18, 2024 – Absentee ballots must be postmarked by this date if returned by mail.
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2024 – Primary Election: Polls are open from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM and absentee ballots may be returned by 7:30 PM to your Board of Elections if not returned by mail.

Important Links

  • To check your registration status, please click here.
  • To register or update your registration, please click here.
  • To find your county’s early voting location, please click here.
  • To find the schedule for early in-person voting, please click here.
  • To find out how to request a mail in ballot and vote by mail, please click here.

OEA Issues First Round of Candidate Recommendations for the 2024 Election

The OEA Fund State Council, which is comprised of the OEA Officers, and representatives of the various OEA District Associations, the OEA Board of Directors, and OEA-Retired that makes decisions for the OEA Fund (OEA’s Political Action Committee), met at the beginning of February to approve Friendly Incumbent endorsement recommendations for members of the Ohio General Assembly.

These recommendations include incumbent legislators from both parties. To qualify to receive a Friendly Incumbent recommendation, members of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate must meet all the following criteria:

  • They were recommended by OEA in their last campaign and are seeking re-election to that same office.
  • They have a good working relationship with OEA members and staff and support many of OEA’s key legislative priorities.
  • Have a score of greater than fifty (50) on the current OEA Scorecard.
  • They have not voted in favor of Senate Bill 83, the Higher Education Destruction Act, the largest attack on collective bargaining rights in Ohio since SB 5 in 2011.
  • Consideration of other extenuating circumstances affecting their race, standing, and relationship with OEA.

To find a list of OEA and NEA recommended candidates as of February 19, 2024, please click here.

We encourage you to contribute to the OEA Fund so that OEA can support candidates from both parties that support public education, the rights of educators, and collective bargaining in Ohio. To contribute, please click here. Also, OEA’s 2024 Screening and Endorsement process will begin in earnest post the 2024 Primary Election, please encourage your local association to participate in candidate screenings that they are eligible to participate in for Ohio House and Senate Districts in your area.

Call to Action: Urge your Legislators to Fully Fund the State Board, don’t increase educator licensure fees.

OEA is calling on state lawmakers to fully fund the State Board of Education, rather than pass a manufactured budget gap onto the backs of hardworking teachers by increasing licensure fees.

Fully funding the State Board will ensure that the Board can support the Resident Educator program, ensure the safety and wellbeing of students by conducting comprehensive, necessary background checks in a timely manner, help address educator recruitment and retention, and ensure timely completion of misconduct investigations so educator rights are protected without increasing teacher licensure fees.

Contact your state representative and state senator to urge them to fully fund the State Board of Education so that the cost of running the State Board is not passed onto teachers.

Click here to send your state representative and senator a letter. If you wish to call your legislators, you can find their official phone number by going to OEA’s Legislative Scorecard (https://scorecard.ohea.org). Put your address in the “Find Your Representative” search box and click on your legislators’ page to find their full contact information.

Voucher Accountability Bill Introduced 

On Monday, February 12, 2024, legislation was introduced to increase fiscal and academic accountability of private schools who accept vouchers. House Bill (HB) 407, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Bill Seitz (R- Cincinnati), would help to level the playing field between public and private schools. This is especially important given that there is now universal eligibility for EdChoice vouchers in Ohio.

Last December, the Representative Assembly adopted changes to the OEA legislative policies that support increased accountability for private schools that accept the EdChoice voucher. OEA supports policies to require regular audits of private schools accepting vouchers; prohibit discrimination in admissions; require voucher students to take the same state tests as their public-school peers; and issue comparable school report cards. 

HB 407 would require increased financial reporting; require schools to have a policy for how they make admission decisions; require most voucher students to take the same state tests; and require the Department of Education and Workforce to issue a similar report card for private schools that have 25% or more of its students on vouchers.

OEA supports these changes and thanks Representative Manning and Representative Seitz for proposing the bill. 

Anti-Lunch Shaming Bill Introduced in Ohio House

House Bill 408, jointly sponsored by Representative Darnell Brewer (D-Cleveland) and Representative Ismail Mohamed (D-Columbus), would require a school district to provide a meal to a student who requests one. The bill eliminates “lunch shaming” policies by prohibiting the following practices: requiring a student to discard a meal because of the inability to pay; requiring a student to do chores for the meal; public identification of the student; and denying a meal to a student as a form of disciplinary action.  The bill also requires school districts to send student meal debt information to parents/guardians and not be given to the student. 

The bill is pending committee assignment. OEA supports the legislation and believes that school meals should be provided to all students at no cost. OEA also thanks Representative Brewer and Representative Mohamed for their proposed legislation.

New Bill will Accomplish OEA Goal of $50k State Minimum Starting Teacher Salary 

Former teacher and OEA member Representative Joe Miller (D-Amherst) introduced House Bill (HB) 411 last week. The bill will help recruit and retain high quality teachers by implementing OEA’s goal of raising the state minimum starting teacher salary to $50,000. 

Experienced teachers also benefit under HB 411, which raises all step increase minimums above the proposed $50,000 base salary on the eleven-step state minimum salary schedule (e.g., state minimum salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree at Step 11 would be increased to $70,900). Local Associations would retain the ability to bargain their own salary schedules above the state minimums. 

Recent OEA member advocacy successfully increased the state minimum starting teacher salary from $30,000 to $35,000. (HB 33 – 135th Ohio General Assembly).

For a copy of HB 411 click here. OEA thanks Representative Joe Miller for his work to fight for the dignity and respect of educators in Ohio with HB 411.

For an archive of past Legislative Watch releases, visit the Legislative Watch archive.