Higher education overhaul bill unlikely to make Ohio House floor any time soon
GOP-backed legislation to address concerns conservatives have about higher education isn’t likely to make it out of the Ohio House before the end of the year.
Although Senate Bill 83 is a top priority for Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), the bill has been on the House side since early summer 2023—and Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said he has no plans to push for its movement right now.
“Oh, it doesn’t have the votes,” Stephens said to reporters Tuesday.
SB 83 is scheduled for its second hearing Wednesday morning in the House Higher Education committee.
Among numerous changes to Ohio’s institutions, the bill bans most mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training at public colleges, requires so-called “intellectual diversity” on certain subjects, and slashes university trustee terms.
It also prohibits universities from taking public positions on controversial subjects, although they are fine to participate in lobbying, and it includes a ban on institutions’ financial partnerships with China, not including tuition from Chinese students. The full legislative text is available here.
SB 83 cleared the senate largely along party lines in May, although three Republicans— Sens. Lou Blessing (R-Colerain Township), Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester)—broke from the caucus and voted against it alongside all the chamber’s Democrats.
Since then, it’s also been amended, including by removing a provision that would ban faculty strikes. But that hasn’t made it more palatable to opponents, or to Stephens.
"It’s been in committee for, what? Six months, five months, or whatever," he said. “It's been a conversation from a lot of people. I think there are a lot of concerns with that bill from both sides of the aisle, frankly.”
The Ohio State University Board of Trustees, college faculty across the state and numerous student organizations have been fierce opponents of the bill.