Payday loan scandal and reform dominated the Ohio legislature in 2018

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Controversial bills regarding abortion, gun rights and elected officials’ pay increases were passed by lawmakers in the lame duck session. Some could be vetoed by Governor John Kasich, and the legislature could return after Christmas to cancel them.

These bills are just a few of the more than 400 bills introduced this year, and just over 70 have been enacted.

The year began and ended with a leadership controversy at Ohio House. Former President Cliff Rosenberger resigned in the spring amid an FBI investigation into his intimate relationship with payday lenders.

Current speaker Ryan Smith and supporters of former speaker Larry Householder have fought to replace Rosenberger for the remainder of the year, with most Democrats refusing to side with the Republicans. In June, after 11 rounds of voting, Smith won.

This battle between Householder and Smith continues in the new General Assembly in 2019, with neither having a majority of Republican voters to win the presidency.

In the spring, a bill on payday lenders dragged on, but it started to move again after the spotlight turned on Rosenberger. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield), had been pushing for the bill for more than a year, to cut interest rates to 591%. Upstairs from the house in June, Koehler said it would help Ohioans who told him that paying off those loans at those rates made it difficult to buy basic items like groceries.

“Another client I met told me that she paid $ 200 for four years on her Social Security check for a $ 1,200 loan,” Koehler said.

Despite dire industry predictions, payday lenders still operate in Ohio, but companies have had to make changes.

Not all of this year’s laws were controversial. There’s a new bipartisan law on the books that fills in some loopholes in Ohio’s domestic violence laws and allows victims of dating violence to get emergency preparedness orders.

Victims of violence will also benefit from greater protection thanks to Judy’s Law, named Judy Malinowski of Columbus, who was sprayed with gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend in 2015. She has never before left hospital and died in June, just hours before state lawmakers passed the bill, which adds up to six years to sentences for criminals who use accelerators to attack their victims.

As he enacted the measure, Governor John Kasich said more could be done.

“Maybe we can do more to think about how we can provide a safe haven, not just a safe haven, but a safe haven and a wonderful incubator to make women all they can be. because without them we are missing, ”Kasich said. “We just don’t have it. We’re not complete.

Lawmakers were hoping to make Ohio’s roads safer when they extended Ohio’s text-and-drive ban to include any form of distracted driving – from talking on the phone to applying makeup. It is now a secondary offense, so police stopping motorists for traffic violations could issue them an additional ticket.

Puppies also got a bit more protection when lawmakers passed a bill cracking down on puppy mills. Lawmakers also struggled to choose with a Department of Health code that would not allow Ohio restaurants to allow puppies on their patios. State Senator Bill Coley (R-Cincinnati) sponsored the Senate version of the bill to change that.

“Why should a health service get expensive and just say, ‘No, no, nowhere in my jurisdiction, in my flight, will there be a dog? “What the hell!” He said.

Lawmakers also made a sales tax-free weekend during the start of the school year in August permanent.

One big change that lawmakers and voters approved is a new congressional bipartisan redistribution plan that was passed in May. Former California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger vowed to take pictures with Kasich if that went through – and he did.

“It was so amazing that I said, ‘I’m going to come to your capital with schnapps, Austrian schnapps, and we’re going to celebrate that,” Schwartzenegger said.

As the new General Assembly arrives, the battle for leadership in Ohio House continues. This fight could be the first round and the new lawmakers could find themselves in the middle of it on the first day, if not before.

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