Melanie Elsey, CHEO Legislative Liaison
December 17, 2022
Buckle up because this is going to be a crazy summary. Sometimes these updates can get confusing when the path of legislation takes frequent sharp turns. The complexities of this process was the primary reason CHEO put a “pause” on legislative updates last week.
A Quick Review…
SB178 was introduced in May 2021 as a 1-page conceptual bill to reform the State Board of Education, the state superintendent, and the Ohio Dept. of Education. It sat as a one-page placeholder for more than 18 months and morphed into 2144 pages when the bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee this month.
There were substantial concerns with this bill because it represented a major shift in state governance of education from when Ohio citizens voted to amend the Ohio Constitution in 1953 to establish a State Board of Education. Please refer to previous legislative updates for the summation of these concerns.
The full Senate approved SB178 on Dec. 7th with a vote of 22-7. At this point the process became more complex.
What Happened Next…
If this massive shift in education policies affecting all school-age children were to be approved, protections would need to be considered for the only two groups of students whose governance rested solely under the State Board of Education in the Administrative Code. These groups were home educated students and 08 non-chartered nonpublic students.
Amendments were discussed and drafted as follows:
Move the OAC rules for 08 students to state statutes (Ohio Revised Code)
Move the OAC rules for home educated students to state statutes (very BAD idea)
Create a new section in the Revised Code to more simply define and describe the home education option
Provide the Legislature with the capacity to override any rule of the newly crafted Director of Education (appointed by the Governor).
The House Education Committee received public testimony on Tuesday (12/13) which lasted until about 10pm. The Committee reconvened at 9:30 on Wednesday morning to hear the remaining testimony and make decisions on accepting amendments.
On Tuesday evening the committee began with consideration of the first amendment pertaining to 08 students. Usually the committee chair will ask for the amendment to be read and then will say – without objection the amendment will become a part of the bill. BUT, this time a member objected which set it up for a committee vote. That vote failed. So Chairman Manning proceeded with allowing witnesses to present their views. On Wednesday morning the committee received testimony from the last two witnesses then went into recess. This committee never reconvened – ever.
From mid-morning on December 13, the Republican and Democrat Parties went back and forth between holding their own private caucuses and then joining public sessions of the entire House. There were also a significant number of conversations between the leadership of each chamber and their members …as well as member to member conversations. During this time there was also activity in the Senate chamber on bills yet to be completed.
While we were focused on Sub.SB178, the Senate members were voting on HB151. What we didn’t see until after midnight on Wednesday was that Sub.HB151 had been amended to add all of the provisions of Sub. SB178 and the extraneous amendments.
Sub. HB 151 was originally designed to replace the Ohio Teacher Residency program with a local teacher mentorship program. When it passed the House on June 1st it was amended on the floor to incorporate the basic components of HB 61 (the Save Women’s Sports Act to prevent biological males competing against females after identifying as a transgender person).
Senate hearings on HB 151 were held on Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. It was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 13 and proceeded to the full Senate floor for consideration on Wednesday, Dec. 14. During the floor consideration on Sub. HB151 the massive content of Sub. SB178 was added to it…along with negotiated amendments for 08 and home educated students. The provision for General Assembly oversight of the new Department of Education and Workforce director was also included. At 1:45 AM on Thursday the Ohio House began discussing Sub. HB 151 to prepare for a vote.
As amended, this is what was included in Sub. HB 151:
The original content of HB 151 – a revision to the Ohio Teacher Residency Program
The provision for protecting girls (K-12th grade) from competing against biological males in sports
A provision to protect students from discrimination if their parents choose to not allow them to be vaccinated
The massive restructuring of the State Board of Education and Ohio Department of Education – moving all student policies under a director appointed by the Governor
Incorporating existing 08 rules into the Ohio Revised Code
Redefining home education – parents would be required to notify their local school superintendent by providing the name and address of their child and a promise to teach all of the required subjects.
Establish a provision that would allow the Ohio General Assembly to override any rule promulgated by the new Ohio Director of Education and Workforce with a simple concurrent resolution which could not be overridden by the Governor.
The final vote to agree to the Senate changes FAILED 46 to 41 (11 not voting). The Ohio Constitution requires that “…no bill shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of the members elected to each house…” Since there are 99 members in the House, a vote of 50 yeas would have been required. This effort failed by just 4 votes!
It is important to understand that CHEO worked with HSLDA on fine tuning the statutory language governing home educators, as well as the concurrent resolution oversight for the General Assembly. There was an expectation that we would either change our opposition to the original bill and now support it or at least take a neutral position on 151.
Considering the magnitude of change in state government being pushed through in a “lame duck” legislative session and the impact that this change would have on all students, the best we could agree to was to take a neutral position for what little time was left on the measure. As you review all these details and look at the final vote, we would encourage you to understand that on every portion of this legislation there are legislators on both sides of these issues who care deeply about the education of children in the State of Ohio. Please don’t jump to a quick conclusion as to why your state representative or state senator voted yes or no on the final bill. It would be a wise decision to reach out and have a conversation with him/her and simply ask them to explain the reasons behind their vote.
As of this writing the vote record has not been posted online. But you can see it at the end of the floor discussion on the Ohio Channel video. See the link below.
SB178 (as incorporated into HB151) is dead, along with all of the other portions of Am.Sub.HB151. But, each portion of this legislation is expected to be revisited in the next General Assembly, which begins the first week of January.
We would encourage the following actions as we move into 2023:
Immediately reach out to your state representative and state senator and get to know them and allow them to get to know you.
Please let us know what you think about moving our state home education regulations into state code – more simply defined (e.g., only notifying with the child’s name and address each year)
Some legislators finishing this term will not be back and there will be new legislators who will be serving for the first time. Please make sure you know who your legislator is in January and how to best contact them in the event of a legislative alert.
Stay in touch with CHEO so we can keep you informed on the policies that will affect your families.
Please send all questions and comments on this summary and the request for feedback to email@example.com
Thank you for your involvement in these important issues. Your calls and emails to Ohio legislators made a big difference!
Here is a link to the floor discussion and vote. Keep in mind that the discussion started around 1:45 am (Dec. 14) and finished around 2:30 am. Scroll over to the 2:02 minute mark. The roll call vote can be seen at the end of the discussion at about the 2:48 minute mark.