Legislative Watch – March 24, 2023

OEA President DiMauro Testifies on State Budget Bill

This week, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified on HB 33, the state budget bill for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025.  In the testimony, President DiMauro highlighted the following:

  • The need to update and fully fund the Fair School Funding Plan.
  • Opposition to the proposed elimination of the school bus purchase program.
  • Opposition to the EdChoice voucher proposed eligibility expansion and proposed increase in funding for the Quality Community Schools Support Fund.
  • OEA’s recommendations on teacher recruitment and retention, including increasing the state minimum teacher salary from $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Input on the provisions of the budget bill addressing literacy and evidence-based reading instruction.
  • Opposition to the requirement that each student, as a condition of graduation, to provide evidence of having completed and submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Advocating for changes to various licensure provisions within the bill.

You may access a copy of the written testimony and watch President DiMauro’s remarks here.

First Hearing Held on Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Weaken Voice of Ohio Voters; Senate Eyes August Special Election

House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) is a proposed constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would require a 60% majority of votes to pass future constitutional amendments. This proposal undermines the basic principle of majority rule and would weaken the voice of Ohio voters to decide issues through the democratic process. OEA is joined by over 170 organizations opposed to HJR 1 deeming it unfair, undemocratic, unpopular, and unnecessary.

On Wednesday, March 22, the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee held a first hearing on HJR 1 with Representative Brian Stewart (R- Ashville) offering sponsor testimony. In addition to increasing the threshold for passing a constitutional amendment, HJR 1 would also make it harder for citizens to get an issue on the ballot by requiring signatures of five percent of the voters in every county.

Also, this week the Senate introduced its own version of the measure, Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2). Additionally, a bill was introduced (Senate Bill 92) which would allow for an August special election on the matter even though the legislature eliminated such elections last year. The bill appropriates $20 million for that purpose.

U.S. House GOP Public Education Attack Bill Heads to the U.S. Senate

This week, U.S. House GOP leadership is continuing the national attacks on public education with a deceitful piece of legislation, HR 5 (the falsely named “Parents Bill of Rights”), that will actually undermine local control of schools, insert the federal government as a national school board, facilitate further book bans and lead to more censorship of teaching honest and accurate education. It is aimed at stoking more targeting of certain groups of students and educators, including the LGBTQ+ population.

This bill, a top 3 legislative priority for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is the federal version of what we saw in House Bills 322, 327, and 616 from the 134th Ohio General Assembly, that would have devastating consequences for students, educators, and communities. The bill will do absolutely nothing to address actual needs of students and issues most important to parents and educators like ensuring individualized support for students, focusing on mental health needs, addressing educator shortages, and preventing gun violence.

Today the U.S. House approved HR 5 with a 213-208 vote. It is unlikely that HR 5 will be considered in the U.S. Senate.

Ohio’s U.S. House Delegation voted 10-5 for the bill along party lines:

Yea/Aye Votes:

Representatives Balderson (R-12), Carey (R-15), Davidson (R-8), Johnson, (R-6), Jordan (R-4), Joyce (R-14), Latta (R-5), Miller (R-7), Turner (R-10), and Wenstrup (R-2)

Nay/No Votes:

Representatives Beatty (D-3), Brown (D-11), Kaptur (D-9), Landsman (D-1), and Sykes (D-13)

For further information on the bill, please see the below resources from NEA:

Read NEA’s two-page backgrounder on HR 5

Watch NEA’s quick video about the bill

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