Legislative Watch – May 15, 2023

OEA Announces Next Member Lobby Day for June 6, 2023

OEA’s next Member Lobby Day is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, 2023. OEA Member Lobby Days provide an excellent opportunity for members to meet with their legislators to discuss key education policy issues currently before the General Assembly.

Participating members will receive a briefing from OEA Officers and OEA Government Relations Staff prior to their legislative visits. The Lobby Day Briefing will be held in the Presidents Room at the OEA Headquarters at 9:30 AM.

To find out more about the June 6, 2023, member lobby day and how to RSVP, please click here.

SJR 2 Narrowly Passes the Ohio House. Campaign Launched to Vote No in August on the Amendment

Down to the final day, the Ohio House narrowly passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). The measure passed 62-37 (60 votes required). Before passage, the resolution was amended to specify that it would go to the August 8, 2023, Special Election. This is of note because just months ago the legislature eliminated August special elections in most cases and had not passed a bill to reinstate them. This will likely face a legal challenge. Additionally, the legislature has not passed any funding to pay for the costs of holding an additional statewide election.

The resolution seeks to amend the constitution and weaken the voice of Ohio voters by requiring greater than 60% of the vote to pass future constitutional amendments. Further, it would make it almost impossible for citizen-led initiatives to make it to the ballot by setting onerous signature gathering requirements in every county.

OEA has joined with hundreds of other organizations to stand up for the rights of Ohio voters. We need our members to mobilize to defeat this proposal at the ballot in August. This amendment shreds our Constitution, ending majority rule in Ohio and taking away our right to decide what happens in our state. It undermines the sacred principle of ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE! Protect our freedom and stand up to this undemocratic, unfair, unpopular, and unnecessary amendment! Vote NO in August! We need your voice to win!

Click here to learn more about how to get involved in the One Person, One Vote Campaign.

OEA President DiMauro Testifies on State Budget Bill in Ohio Senate

OEA President Scott DiMauro provided testimony on May 10, 2023, before the Senate Education Committee on Substitute House Bill 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. The testimony highlighted the following:

  • The need for the Senate to retain House-passed changes to the school funding formula.
  • Request that the Senate provide a mechanism that ensures when updates to the capacity measures in future years occur, the base cost components of the funding formula will also update.
  • Opposition to the EdChoice voucher proposed eligibility expansion.
  • Request that the Senate maintain the House-passed increase in state minimum starting teacher salary from $30,000 to $40,000 and consider increasing the minimum teacher salary to $50,000.
  • Input on the provisions of the budget bill addressing literacy and evidence-based reading instruction.
  • Request support for language added by the Ohio House that would repeal mandatory student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Request support for the provision that provides state funding to cover the cost between free and reduced-priced meals and request that the Senate add a provision to cover universal breakfast in Ohio schools.
  • Advocating for support for a variety of provisions included in the bill that address growing teacher shortages.

You can view OEA’s testimony by clicking here.

Ohio House and Ohio Senate Adopt Substitute Bills to Higher Education “Reform” Proposals

On May 15, 2023, the Ohio Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee adopted a substitute bill to Senate Bill 83 (R-Cirino).  The substitute bill includes the following changes outlined below:

  • Revises the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) provisions to allow for certain exemptions.  Exemptions must be approved by the chancellor of higher education and be required for compliance with federal law, licensure, accreditation, or cooperative agreements. 
  • Removes the provision requiring intellectual diversity rubrics for classes and clarifies that the bills intent is not to prohibit faculty or students from classroom instruction, discussion, or debate as long as faculty are committed to expressing and allowing the expression of intellectual diversity.  The bill maintains the requirement that institutions develop disciplinary measure against faculty and staff who interfere with “intellectual diversity rights.”
  • Changes the requirement for syllabi to contain biographical information about faculty to instead require “professional qualifications” of faculty. 
  • Revises language to clarify that prohibitions on policies designed to segregate based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression apply only to credit-earning classroom settings, formal orientation ceremonies, and formal graduation ceremonies.  This removes the concern that the bill’s language would have applied to student organizations, athletic teams, and housing.
  • Clarifies that Chinese students can attend and pay tuition and fees to Ohio higher education institutions. 
  • Allows Ohio higher education institutions to have academic relationships with Chinese institutions.  Requires that “safeguard requirements” are met and that the relationship must be approved by the Chancellor in consultation with the Attorney General. 
  • Removes the bill’s provisions from applying to private institutions of higher education.

Substitute Senate Bill 83 also adds new policy provisions including:

  • Specifies that tenure, faculty evaluations, workload, and retrenchment are not appropriate subjects for collective bargaining for future contracts and that policies developed by the board of trustees would prevail over any conflicting provision(s) of a collective bargaining agreement. 
  • Requires a board of trustees to develop policies on tenure and retrenchment and to update those policies every five years. 
  • Reduces trustee terms from nine to four years beginning for trustees appointed on or after January 1, 2024.
  • Includes new language on endowments and donor intent similar to legislation from last General Assembly.

Substitute Senate Bill 83 maintains the ban on strikes by employees of higher education, maintains annual faculty evaluations with 50% of the assessment from student evaluations, retains the 30 credit hour minimum workload policy, prohibits using diversity statements in hiring and promotion decisions, requires specific syllabi requirements and making them public and searchable, requires post tenure review and requires that students complete a three-hour course in American government or history. 

OEA anticipates that Substitute Senate Bill 83 will be passed out of committee next week. It is also expected that some or all of the bill’s provisions will be amended into House Bill 33, the state budget bill that is currently pending in the Ohio Senate. 

Additionally, House Bill 151, companion legislation to Senate Bill 83, received sponsor and proponent testimony on May 10, 2023 in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee.  The committee also accepted a substitute bill to HB 151 to mirror Substitute Senate Bill 83. 

New Bill Requires Social Studies Model Curriculum to Include Migration Journeys

OEA supports House Bill 171, introduced on May 15, 2023 by state Representative Mary Lightbody (D-Plain Township). The bill requires that no later than July 1, 2024, the state board shall begin to update the model curriculum for social studies in grades kindergarten to twelve to include age- and grade appropriate instruction in the migration journeys, experiences, and societal contributions of a range of communities in Ohio and the United States, including all of the following: (a) African American communities; (b) Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; (c) Arab, African, and North African immigrant, refugee, and asylee communities; (d) Appalachian communities; (e) Jewish communities; (f) Latin American communities; (g) Native American communities. The bill has not yet been assigned to committee.

Bill to Establish State Regulation of School-Parent Communication and Relationships Receives Opposition Testimony

OEA opposes House Bill 8, joint sponsored by Representative D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Representative Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), which unnecessarily entangles state government in regulating communications and relationships between parents and educators. Government mandates on these matters interfere with the professionalism of educators and weaken the principle of local control of public schools. OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing provided opponent testimony on HB 8 before the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee on May 9, 2023. You may view Vice President Wensing’s testimony here.

Single-Sex Sports Bill Passed By Ohio House Higher Education Committee

House Bill 6, sponsored by Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), was passed out of the Ohio House Higher Education Committee on May 10, 2023. The bill passed on a mainly party-line vote, with Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) voting No with the committee’s Democrats. OEA opposes HB 6, which requires schools participating in PK-12 and higher education athletic competitions to designate separate single-sex athletic teams based on the sex of the participants without accommodation to LGBQT+ students. HB 6 is unnecessary. The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the National College Athletics Association have already established guidelines for participation in interscholastic and collegiate sporting that address issues raised by HB 6. The Ohio Education Association has long stood for policies that are inclusive of students, regardless of race, class, gender, or identity. OEA President Scott DiMauro provided opponent testimony on HB 6. You may view President DiMauro’s testimony here.

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