Last Minute Moves in Lame Duck; Redistricting Reform Becomes Real

The busy week began and ended with memories of an iconic figure in Ohio politics – longtime Ohio Republican Party chair Bob Bennett. On the other side of the aisle, the race for Democratic Party chairman is narrowing. And the newly re-elected governor and lieutenant governor have announced their plans for next month’s inauguration.

This week’s lame duck action got a little unpredictable this week, with movement on a bill that many people had presumed was dead. The controversial Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortion after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, came to life briefly, as an amendment to a widely supported bipartisan bill from the Senate on infant mortality, and then by itself. Senate President Keith Faber wasn't pleased about the possibility, but the bill failed after a very limited debate featuring only two speakers – Republican Christina Hagan of Alliance, the co-sponsor of the bill, and Democrat John Carney of Columbus.

That wasn’t the only unorthodox move for a controversial bill. Republican Rep. John Adams of Sidney in western Ohio had tried to add the attempt to repeal the Common Core education standards into a bill that would require the teaching of world history in Ohio public schools. There was also action on traffic cameras, protection for compounding pharmacies that make deadly drugs for use in executions, creation of a sales tax holiday and of the position of Poet Laureate.

The biggest issue that was left on the table on Thursday was redistricting. The House had voted out a redistricting resolution from Rep. Matt Huffman of Lima with overwhelming bipartisan support, 80-4, and the Senate voted for it after hours of negotiations around 4am on Friday. On Wednesday morning, with the redistricting issue still up in the air, Secretary of State Jon Husted talked about it at an event at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University.

This month, the newly re-elected Republican state treasurer made good on a campaign promise – one of the few Josh Mandel made this election year, since he did almost no campaigning. That promise – to put Ohio’s checkbook online to show how the state is spending its money. Angela Reighard went to Mandel’s office for an indepth look in Ohiocheckbook.com.

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