Legislative Watch – June 3, 2022

Bill that Dilutes Training Requirements for Armed School Staff Clears Ohio Legislature

Despite significant opposition from educators, parents, law enforcement, and concerned citizens, the Ohio Senate passed House Bill (HB) 99. The bill passed by a vote of 23-9 and Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) joined Democrats in opposition. The Ohio House of Representatives later concurred with Senate Amendments by a vote of 56-34. Representatives Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) joined Democrats in opposing the bill.

This bill would gut training requirements for teachers and other school staff members who are authorized by their local school districts to carry guns in school buildings. Additionally, it would reverse the 2021 Ohio Supreme Court ruling in Gabbard v. Madison Local School District Board of Education that upheld that armed educators need to complete over 700 hours of training.

Prior to the Senate floor vote, the Ohio Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee adopted a substitute bill. That bill would prescribe initial state training requirements to not exceed 24 hours and no more than 8 hours to be completed for requalification. The bill does allow for a local school district to require training to exceed these state maximums. Additionally, the bill creates the Ohio Mobile Training team within the Ohio Department of Public Safety to develop the curriculum and provide training to those individuals authorized to carry weapons in a school safety zone and support school districts in other items related to school safety.

OEA remains strongly opposed to HB 99 and urges Governor DeWine to veto the bill. OEA believes that state minimum training requirements must be rigorous, and that parents and the community must be adequately informed. HB 99 remains woefully inadequate in these measures.

You can contact Governor DeWine to urge him to veto HB 99 at 614-466-3555.

  • An analysis of the bill can be found here
  • Read OEA’s press release here
  • Find OEA’s HB 99 veto letter here
  • View OEA’s HB 99 testimony here

School Security Grants

On Wednesday, June 1, both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 687, the capital appropriations bill. The measure contains $100 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support school security grants.

Grants can be up to $100,000 per school building and will be awarded by the Ohio School Facilities Construction Commission. Guidelines for these grants will be adopted in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Governor DeWine is expected to sign HB 687.

Bill to End Student Retention Under Third Grade Reading Guarantee Clears House

On Wednesday, June 1, 2022, the Ohio House approved House Bill 497. The bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Gayle Manning (R- North Ridgeville) and Phil Robinson (D- Solon), would eliminate student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Additionally, HB 497 would reduce state-mandated testing by limiting the 3rd grade English Language Arts test to a single administration each year.

OEA strongly supports HB 497. High-stakes decisions about students should not be based on a test score. Further, reducing the time spent on standardized testing will free up more time for teaching and learning in the classroom.

HB 497 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 80-10. This bipartisan bill will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

HB 616: “Divisive Concept/Don’t Say Gay” Bill Gets First Hearing Testimony From Bill Sponsors

House Bill 616 received first hearing bill sponsor testimony in the Ohio House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. The committee heard testimony from the bill sponsors, Rep. Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township). The bill has no co-sponsors.

HB 616 doubles-down on state censorship of “divisive topics” from HB 327 and adds parts of Florida’s recently passed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Violations of “divisive topics” and “don’t say gay” prohibitions could result in educator license revocation and withholding of state funding for schools.

OEA opposes HB 616 and other similar legislation, such as HB 327 (R-Fowler/R-Grendell). Educators and students deserve the freedom to teach and learn without fear of state censorship, intimidation, and punishment based on vague government prohibitions on speech and ideas. All Ohio children deserve an honest and reflective education that empowers them to become critical thinkers and future leaders.

Take action to protect educators and students. Use the OEA HB 616 Action Alert to send an email to your state representative asking them to oppose this harmful legislation:

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

OEA Requests Line-Item Veto of HB 583 Amendments on Charters and Vouchers

Before passing a bill to extend a temporary law that provides flexibility in hiring substitute teachers, the Ohio Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee added numerous amendments on other subjects. OEA is requesting a line-item veto of two HB 583 amendments that undermine accountability for charter school sponsors and expand the state’s financial obligations under the income-based voucher program to families that no longer qualify.

HB 529 Gets Proponent Testimony Hearing – Requires Web Posting of Instructional Materials

The Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee held a second hearing on HB 529 on May 24, 2022. OEA opposes HB 529, which requires schools to post instructional materials on its website.

HB 151 – OEA Opposes Transgender Sports Ban Amendment

On June 1, 2022, Ohio House Republicans took a clean bill that sought to help early career educators and added the controversial transgender sports ban from HB 61 at the eleventh hour. OEA opposes the transgender sports ban addition to HB 151 and asks the Ohio Senate to remove this provision when it considers the bill.

Time and time again, certain members of the Ohio General Assembly use backdoor tactics to pass unsupported and controversial legislation. Instead of waging divisive culture wars, the Ohio General Assembly should focus tackling the real problems faced by Ohio’s public schools.