Legislative Watch – December 9, 2022

OEA Testifies Against HJR 6

There continues to be strong opposition to a proposal that would make it much harder for voters to amend the Ohio Constitution. House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR 6) would require a supermajority of 60% of the vote to pass a citizen-led initiative. HJR6 would make it much more challenging to pass amendments to advance the interests of students and educators, including a potential constitutional amendment to fully and fairly fund Ohio’s public schools.

OEA President Scott DiMauro testified in opposition to HJR 6 on Wednesday. Click here to read OEA’s testimony. Opponents vastly outnumbered supporters of the proposal over two days of hearings. A vast and growing coalition of over 150 groups has signed to fight the proposal. HJR 6 is truly unfair, undemocratic, and unpopular. It seeks to silence the will of the people by blunting the ability of Ohio citizens to advance issues that the legislature is either unable or unwilling to address.

HJR 6 is still under consideration in the House Government Oversight Committee, which could hold a vote as early as Monday. Click here to urge your State Senator and State Representative to oppose HJR 6.

Senate Passes Bill Shifting Education to Governor

Despite a rushed process that didn’t allow for meaningful stakeholder input, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 178 by a vote of 22-7. The bill, sponsored by Senator William Reineke (R-Tiffin), is a proposal to limit the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and create a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and Workforce. The new department would be under the Governor and oversee most issues currently under the purview of the State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education.

OEA President Scott DiMauro testified as an interested party in the legislation. Mr. DiMauro stated that it is worth reviewing the best way to oversee and support education; however, the process should be timely. Stakeholders should have the opportunity to share concerns and have them addressed. OEA cautioned against passing the bill during the lame-duck session’s waning days.

Senate Bill 178 had four hearings—three allowing for public testimony. Two of those hearings occurred after a 2,100-page substitute bill was adopted. Only the final hearing allowed for opponent testimony. Opponents outnumbered proponents 25 to 18, with seven testifying as interested parties. Like OEA, interested parties outlined significant questions or reservations. The only change to the substitute bill adopted by the committee was to make the effective date earlier.

With little time left in the legislative session, the bill will head to the Ohio House.

Ohio Senate Committee Replaces Trans Sports Gender Exam with Birth Certificate Requirement

On December 6, 2022, the Ohio Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee removed a provision in House Bill 151 (HB 151) that would have allowed gender exams to verify the biological sex of trans athletes seeking to play single-sex sports. Instead, the new language would require a school, athletic conference, interscholastic athletics organization, state institution, or private college to determine a disputed participant’s sex based on the sex that appears on the participant’s original birth certificate. Separately, HB 151 contains reforms to the resident educator program and summative assessment intended to streamline and improve the experience of early career educators. The trans sports language amended by the Senate was added to the bill in a last-minute House floor amendment. OEA is opposed to adding this amendment to HB 151 and believes this issue should be addressed through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, such as the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which already has a process regarding trans athlete participation.

The following is a summary of the Ohio Senate trans sports provisions in HB 151:

  • Permits students of the female sex to participate within male sports divisions of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics.
  • Expressly prohibits students of the male sex from participating in female sports divisions and teams.
  • Removes the requirement that, when disputed, a student’s sex be determined using a signed physician’s statement indicating the participant’s sex. Instead, it requires a school, athletic conference, interscholastic athletics organization, state institution, or private college to determine a disputed participant’s sex based on the sex that appears on the participant’s original birth certificate.
  • Removes the provision of the bill that authorizes an athletic participant to file a civil action if the participant is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers harm because of a violation of the bill’s single-sex participation requirements or if the participant is subject to retaliation for reporting such a violation.