Rep. Thomas Hall has been aggressive in introducing proposed bills during his freshman year in the Ohio House -15 bills introduced to date - and he plans to introduce at least one more before the end of the calendar year.
Hall, a Republican from Madison Twp. said the bills he introduces “all serve a purpose,” and a lot are “trying to modernize Ohio, trying to make government more efficient, trying to save taxpayers’ money.”
“Our goals have been the same,” said Hall, “To represent our constituents back home, to put forth bills that have an impact not only on my district but in districts all across the state of Ohio, and I think we’ve done that.”
One of Hall’s bills, House Bill 176, which was jointly sponsored with Rep. Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Twp., which updates the law to “reflect current practice and changes in athletic training education and training,” was signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Mike DeWine.
He’s had two more bills pass the House and are being considered in the Ohio Senate. One is the controversial House Bill 99, which passed the House in November down a party-line vote, and the less controversial House Bill 230, which received unanimous support.
House Bill 99 will allow school districts to approve certain qualified teachers and school staff members to be armed while on school property.
Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chairman Brian Hester said he doubts Hall’s “bipartisan credibility” after pushing House Bill 99 which “lowers training standards for people to carry guns in schools.” He also said Hall will have a primary opponent this May and it “seems like the GOP is at war with itself at all levels.”
House Bill 230 would allow the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to contract a study to improve the state’s current information technology systems.
Today, Hall said his House Bill 458, which would eliminate the August special election with few exceptions, could be up for a floor vote. Those exceptions are if the governor can call for an August special election to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives, a political subdivision in that congressional district can hold a special election; and if the Ohio auditor declares a local government is in fiscal emergency, that local government can hold a special election.
There is a third one-time exception for the August 2022 special election. Per the Ohio Constitution, if a local government was authorized in the August 2021 election to create a new charter, like the city of Circleville did this year, the charter form of government is to be voted on in August 2022.
“Our goal with this is very simple, it’s very straightforward, I’m just happy it’s a bipartisan push,” said Hall.
In a joint letter of opposition, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Ohio School Boards Association, and Ohio Township Association are against the bill saying it “undermines the ability of school districts and townships, which are funded primarily through property taxes, to sustain and raise critical funding.”
Six years ago, the state eliminated the February special election, and the four organizations said they only have two opportunities to ask for levy and bond issues, which includes every November general election. Local governments are responsible for paying for special elections unless there’s a countywide or congressional election already scheduled.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose supports House Bill 458 because special elections often have historic or near-historic low turnout. In August 2020, Hamilton County had a special election with 11.8% voter turnout, and Cuyahoga County had just a 6.8% turnout, he said.
“These are just two examples of chronically low turnout elections when voters aren’t expecting an election to occur - and that is bad news for the civic health of our state,” LaRose said.
Also set for a floor vote today, is Hall’s personal privacy bill with Carfagna, House Bill 376, that would establish data rights for Ohioans and require businesses to adhere to specified data. So by the end of the week, Hall said he hopes to have four bills in the Ohio Senate for consideration.
“When I signed up for his job, I didn’t sign up for this job for attention,” he said. “I signed up for this job to get stuff done.”