Legislative Watch – April 28, 2023

Ohio House Passes State Budget Bill (HB 33)

On Tuesday, April 25, the Ohio House Finance Committee made further changes to the state budget bill, via an omnibus amendment, before sending the Substitute House Bill 33 to the full Ohio House.

After House floor deliberations on Wednesday, April 26, the Ohio House passed Substitute House Bill 33 by a vote of 77-19.  OEA commends the Ohio House for their bipartisan collaboration in crafting a state budget bill that provides significant financial investment for public schools, increases the minimum teacher salary, and repeals the retention provision of the third grade reading guarantee among other items.

New district funding spreadsheets detailing the House-passed version are not yet available. It is important to note that we are halfway through the state budget process and funding and policy provisions are likely to change.  Attention now shifts to the Ohio Senate where budget hearings are underway.    

Details of the major policy changes contained within the amendments made to the budget bill since last week’s legislative watch are outlined below.

  • Requires by July 1, 2024, the Ohio Department of Education to develop one or more measures to demonstrate the performance of vouchers students that enable parents to compare the performance of voucher students against that of students enrolled in public schools.
  • Prohibits private schools participating in the EdChoice Voucher program from requiring a student’s parent to disclose, as part of the school’s admission procedure, whether the student’s family income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. 
  • Requires the Department of Education to determine penalty fees related to transportation based upon the number of students affected rather than the total daily transportation payment amount.
    Appropriates $100 million in FY 2024 for the Career-Technical Construction Program.  This restores the $200 million appropriation in FY 2024, as under the executive budget proposal.
  • Changes the definition of “three-cueing approach” to mean “any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure, syntax, and visual cues” rather than “an instructional method that encourages students to predict words based on story structure, pictures, typical word order, letter sounds, or other contextual cues.”
  • Qualifies special education programs operated by a county board of developmental disabilities and facilities offering juvenile day treatment services for reimbursements for reduced price school meals.
  • Removes from the bill a provision that required a presidential primary election to be held in May, the same as other primary elections in Ohio, rather than being held in March.

You may view a summary of the provisions included in Substitute House Bill 33 here

Advocacy Efforts Continue to Defend the Rights of Ohio Voters

The House may vote next week on a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed by Ohio voters, would make it more difficult to pass future amendments by requiring 60% of the vote. This ill-conceived amendment would weaken the voice of Ohio voters strip away with basic principle of majority rule. For over one hundred years Ohioans have had the right to amend the constitution to address key issues when the legislature fails to act upon them. Disturbingly, the legislature is attempting to rush the proposal to the ballot by proposing a special August election.

This week, four former Ohio Governors voiced their opposition to House Joint Resolution 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 as well as the push for an August special election. Ted Strickland (D), Bob Taft (R), John Kasich (R), and Richard Celeste (D) all were quoted in the press in opposition.

There are several ways that you can help to fight back against this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary proposal. On Wednesday, May 3rd, educators, other union members, and other allies working to defeat these proposals are holding a day of action at the Statehouse. OEA members who are able are encouraged to attend. Click here for more information.

Click here to email your state representative and urge them to oppose these proposals. You can also call your legislator by dialing 1-800-282-0253 and ask to be connected to your state representative. Urge them to vote “No” on House Joint Resolution 1 or Senate Joint Resolution 2.

OEA Members Testify Against Universal Voucher Bill

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, OEA President Scott DiMauro provided testimony in opposition to House Bill 11. This bill would create a new universal voucher program for K-12 students providing taxpayer funds to pay for private school tuition or homeschooling. The proposal would blow an enormous hole in the state budget with an estimated cost of $1.1 billion a year just to pay for students who already attend private schools. This would undercut funding for the approximately 90% of Ohio’s students who attend public schools.

The hearing on Tuesday was the third hearing on HB 11 and the first opportunity for opponents to testify. OEA members Dan Heintz (Chardon) and Christopher Monteiro (Columbus) also testified before the committee in opposition. Several other OEA members took the time to add their voices in opposition to HB 11 and stand up for Ohio’s public schools by providing written testimony.  

To learn about how you can provide testimony on priority legislation that OEA supports or opposes, please contact OEA Government Relations at govtsrv@ohea.org

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