RIGHT TO LIFE ACTION COALITION OF OHIO – Friday Five
Barry Sheets, Legislative Consultant
February 1, 2019
The first month of the 133rd
The first month of the 133rd General Assembly is in the books, and it’s a very slow start. Look for the pace to pick up significantly during February.
NEWS AND VIEWS
1. The major news of the week is that the Heartbeat Bill looks to start it’s progress through the Legislature next week. Senate President Larry Obhof has indicated that a press conference will be held on Wednesday to announce the introduction of the Senate version of the measure, sponsored by newly-elected Senator Kristina Roegner of the 27th Senate District (Wayne County and parts of Stark and Summit). The Senate moving first means that the House, which has passed the measure four times, will likely have the final say over the legislation’s wording and effect. Governor Mike DeWine has repeatedly noted that he will sign the bill upon receiving it from the Assembly. The House version, sponsored by pro-life champions Rep. Ron Hood of Ashville and Rep. Candice Keller of Middletown, will be introduced once 50 cosponsors have been secured. The count currently stands at 47.
2. Speaking of the Senate, Wednesday is also the day when an appointment to fill the vacant Senate District 2 seat is to be made. Current Representative Theresa Gavarone of Bowling Green looks to be the presumptive favorite to join the Senate. She has been a regular vote for pro-life legislation during her four years in the House. This will leave the House looking to appoint someone to fill her vacated seat, probably by March.
3. The Senate Republican Caucus will elect a new member of their majority leadership team on Wednesday. Senator Matt Huffman, who is looking to become President of the Senate in the 134th Assembly in 2021, moves into the Majority Whip position, and the likelihood is that Senator Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls is to be elected to fill the #4 slot as Assistant Majority Whip. Dolan, who has voted against most pro-life measures while in the Senate (Heartbeat, Down’s Syndrome Ban), happens to be the largest fundraiser behind the Senate President and is angling to run for that post when President Obhof is term-limited at the end of 2020.
4. Standing Committee chairmanships should be announced next week as well. The key standing committees that we hope to see pro-life elected leaders take the helm of include the House Health Committee, House Judiciary and House Criminal Justice Committees, the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Senate Government Oversight Committee. The House has announced the appointment of pro-life champion Rep. Nino Vitale as chairman of the Sunset Review Committee, a special panel to review and make recommendations to the legislature on whether or not boards and commissions of state government should continue to operate or be eliminated.
5. On the elections front, a likely primary between two solid pro-life state Representatives in the Dayton area looks to be in development. Third-term Rep. Niraj Antani has already announced that he is seeking the 6th District Senate seat that will vacated by current Senator Peggy Lehner due to term limits. Fourth-term Representative Jim Butler, who is also facing term limits in his House seat, is also highly likely to seek this Senate seat. Both Representatives have been strongly pro-life in their votes and actions in the House. Antani is not term-limited this cycle, as four consecutive two-year House terms are the limit in Ohio. He will be foregoing seeking a final term in the House in order to make the move to the Senate.
Each installment of the Friday Five will bring thumbnail profiles of key policymakers. One statewide office holder or agency director, one Senator and three House members will be profiled each time.
Attorney General Dave Yost
Yost, a former Delaware County prosecutor and state Auditor, is Ohio’s 51st Attorney General. Dave Yost began his career as an award-winning newspaper reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, and later practiced law with Burkam, Yost & Fuller in Delaware, before serving on city council and becoming the county Auditor. Yost is expected to continue the strong pro-life and pro-family defense of Ohio’s laws as did his predecessor Mike DeWine.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Bob Peterson
Peterson, a former Fayette County commissioner and Representative is beginning his final four-year Senate term. He has held the #2 spot in Senate Republican leadership for two years. He has a consistent pro-life voting record, but did not co-sponsor virtually any of the pro-life legislation considered by the Senate in the 132nd Assembly (except for SB 28, the Fetal Remains bill).
Representative Brian Baldridge
A former county Commissioner in Adams County, Baldridge is new to the General Assembly, having filled the open 90th House District seat formerly held by Dr. Terry Johnson. Baldridge, a former firefighter and paramedic, received the endorsement of RTLACO during the 2018 campaign, and has already co-sponsored the Heartbeat bill for this session.
Representative John Becker
The fourth-term Representative from Clermont County (65th House District) has been a pro-life vote during his time in the Assembly. Becker has co-sponsored pro-life legislation regularly, including four times on Heartbeat. He will likely be seeking the 14th Senate District seat of Joe Uecker which will be opened by term limits at the end of this two-year session.
Representative Louis William “Bill” Blessing 3rd
Also in his fourth term in the House, Rep. Bill Blessing hails from suburban Cincinnati (House District 29). An engineer by trade, Blessing was Chairman of the House Government Oversight committee in the 132nd session. Blessing regularly co-sponsors and votes pro-life. It is unlikely that Blessing will try to move to the Senate in the next election, as sitting Senator Lou Terhar will likely run for re-election to the 8th District Senate seat that encompasses HD 29.
Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati is a member organization of the