Legislative Watch – March 14, 2024

Reminder: 2024 Primary Election is Next Week

Have you made your plan to vote in the 2024 Primary Election? If you have not yet done so, you have under one week until the March 19, 2024, Primary Election.  Click here for a voting schedule for the 2024 Primary Election, but here are a few important reminders:

  • Early voting has already begun and will run until Sunday, March 17, 2024.  Please click here to find your county’s early voting location and the dates and times that you can cast your ballot early.
  • Absentee Voting (Vote by Mail): The deadline to request a mail-in absentee ballot has passed, however, if you have received or are awaiting an absentee ballot, please fill it out and return it via mail or drop it off at your county’s Board of Elections. Please note that if you mail your ballot, it must be postmarked by March 18, 2024, and be received by your county’s Board of Elections by March 23, 2024. You can drop off your absentee ballot to your county’s Board of Elections by 7:30 PM on March 19, 2024.
  • Primary Election Day: On Tuesday, March 19, 2024, polls are open from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM. To find important information about voting on election day, please click here.   As a reminder, Voter ID rules have changed, please click here to review a list of acceptable forms of ID to vote on election day.
  • For assistance with voting in the March 19, 2024, Primary Election, please go to: https://866ourvote.org/state/ohio/  or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Finally, the OEA has made some early candidate recommendations. To view these recommendations, please click here.

OEA Testifies on Fully Funding the State Board of Education

On Monday, March 11, 2024, Columbus Education Association member, Mr. Greg Mild, and OEA Assistant General Counsel, Ms. Kelly Phillips, provided testimony before the State Board of Education in support of fully funding the Board to prevent increase teacher licensure fees and so that the Board can properly perform its important functions around licensure, investigations, and addressing staffing recruitment and retention issues.

Mr. Mild, also a member of his district’s LPDC committee, highlighted the “tax on teachers” that educators already feel to pay for programs that are mandated but under or un-funded, as well as pay for the required continuing education credits to maintain their license. Mr. Mild implored the Board not to seek increased licensure fees to close the legislature created budget gap, stating, “[m]any educators seek to not only improve their practice through [the professional development and re-licensure] process, but they put in the time and effort to obtain additional credentials, sometimes once again required by law [as in the case of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee], or other times by choice.” Mr. Mild went on to say that “…it seems like this once-every-five year cost is reasonable, but it is simply one of numerous expenses by educators to remain licensed in a profession that is already struggling to attract and retain qualified individuals.”

Ms. Phillips focused on the impact of not fully funding the State Board on the Board’s ability to properly handle and resolve investigations of code of conduct violations. She pointed out that often, during investigations, “…educators are left with their licensure and future of their livelihoods in limbo. Meanwhile, the students they serve are stuck with substitute teachers and are denied the stable learning environment necessary to foster critical thinkers.”

Both Mr. Mild and Ms. Phillips spoke to the detrimental impact that not fully funding the State Board would have on addressing the educator staffing shortages. Mr. Mild pointed out in his comments that according to:

“[a] report by Policy Matters [Ohio]…Ohio is not gaining enough new teachers to replace those leaving the profession.  In the past decade, there has been a significant decline in the newly-licensed teachers in Ohio, from 7,634 in 2013, down to 5,000 in 2022. During that same decade, Ohio has licensed fewer homegrown teachers through in-state programs (down from 6,414 in 2013 to just 3,903 last year) while simultaneously attracting fewer new teachers from out-of-state (down from 892 in 2013 to 468 last year).”

Increasing licensure fees will only serve to exacerbate this downward trend in individuals, both from in-state and from out of state, becoming licensed educators in Ohio.

We thank Mr. Mild and Ms. Phillips for their willingness to testify before the State Board on this important issue. To read a copy of Mr. Mild’s testimony click here. For Ms. Phillip’s click here.  

In addition, 25 local associations and school districts submitted written testimony in support of fully funding the State Board. To view all testimony submitted for the March 11, 2024, State Board meeting, please click here.

As you know, OEA continues to call on state lawmakers and elected officials to fully fund the State Board of Education.  To send your legislators a letter urging them to support fully funding the State Board of Education, please click here.

OEA Testifies on GPO-WEP Repeal Resolution

At the end of last month, OEA Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hill testified in support of House Concurrent Resolution 6 (HCR 6). The resolution would urge Congress to fully repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). These provisions of federal law unfairly punish public employees by reducing their earned Social Security benefits or spousal/survivor benefits when the employee also collects a public pension from employment that did not pay into Social Security. This has an enormous impact on public education employees in Ohio and other public servants because these positions are exempt from Social Security.

OEA’s testimony pointed out that the movement towards repeal is important and bipartisan. Legislation in Congress has over 300 cosponsors in the House, a majority of the body. Additionally, HCR 6 unanimously passed the Ohio House of Representatives in December (85-0). The resolution is currently pending in the Senate Government Oversight Committee. Click here to read OEA’s testimony in full. To contact your member of the Ohio Senate and urge their support of HCR 6, please click here.

For an archive of past Legislative Watch releases, visit the Legislative Watch archive.