Legislative Watch – April 16, 2021

Ohio House Finance Committee Accepts Substitute Budget Bill 
On Tuesday, April 13, the Ohio House Finance Committee adopted a substitute version of House Bill (HB) 110, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022 and 2023.

Notably, the substitute measure includes the Fair School Funding Plan formula (House Bill 1) with some adjustments outlined below.  The Plan will continue to be phased-in over a six-year period – with $4.5 billion in American Recovery Act funds put on top of the additional state aid included during the phase in period, which helps to ease the transition to the new formula. The bill also eliminates separate funding for the Success and Wellness program, currently funded outside of the funding formula, merging those funds into the Fair School Funding Plan. With this change, the substitute bill ensures that all districts in this budget cycle will receive from the state an amount equal to at least the sum of their total FY 2019 formula aid plus total FY 2021 Success and Wellness Funds.

The substitute bill removes the requirement that each student, as a condition of graduation, provide evidence of having completed and submitted a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).  OEA supports this change. Additionally, the measure retains the Executive Budget proposal, supported by OEA, that prohibits the Superintendent of Public Instruction from establishing new academic distress commissions (ADCs) for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.

OEA Government Relations staff is currently reviewing the language in the substitute bill and will provide additional details as they become available.  District runs are not currently available.  HB 110 is expected to have additional amendments and a vote next week in the Ohio House.

You may view a summary of the major changes included in the substitute budget bill here.

OEA Submits Testimony in Opposition to Bill to Alter Training Requirements for Armed School Staff
On Thursday, April 15, 2021, the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing for opposition testimony on House Bill 99.  OEA President Scott DiMauro submitted testimony in opposition, as well as over 130 other opponent witnesses, but only four witnesses were given the opportunity to testify in person.  OEA President DiMauro was not one of the four.  The Chair stated that time constraints of the committee hearing necessitated limiting the number of witnesses, and that there would be future opportunities for individuals to testify on the bill.

The bill would exempt a “person authorized to go armed within a school safety zone” from satisfactorily completing an approved basic peace officer training program. This would reverse the 2020 12th District Court of Appeals ruling on Gabbard v. Madison Local School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2020-Ohio-1180, that is now pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Further, House Bill 99 would prescribe no state training requirements for armed school personnel outside of Ohio’s concealed carry training, assuming that school staff are carrying concealed. This training is 8 hours, 6 of which can be completed online.

OEA opposes the legislation. The safety of Ohio’s students and school staff necessitates increased training requirements for armed personnel not fewer.  You can read his full testimony here.

HB 200 – OEA Provides Committee Testimony Regarding Report Card Reform Bill

OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing provided testimony to the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee this week regarding HB 200. The bill is designed to address numerous flaws with the current state report card system for school districts/buildings. OEA testimony highlighted priorities such as eliminating misleading A-F letter grades and adding a “Student Opportunity Profile” with indicators that help districts/buildings demonstrate their offerings and support for students beyond test-based measures. HB 200 is bi-partisan legislation joint sponsored by Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) and Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). The OEA HB 200 testimony is available here.

SB 165 – Establishes Process to Release Lorain City Schools from ADC

Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) has introduced legislation (SB 165) that would establish a process for Lorain City Schools to be released from state control under the HB 70 Academic Distress Commission/CEO system. Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee Chair Andrew Brenner is co-sponsoring the bill. OEA is seeking an amendment that would also apply the bill to Youngstown and East Cleveland City Schools.