20 of 21 Ohio bills that became law in 2019 had at least some bipartisan support

By: - December 31, 2019 1:00 am

A photo of the Ohio Statehouse from Wikimedia Commons.

While Ohio Republicans hold supermajorities in both state legislative chambers, the top Democrat in the House has perhaps a surprising verdict on 2019: it was a year of “unprecedented bipartisanship.”

The numbers largely back up House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes’ claim. Republicans have strongholds in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, along with controlling the governor’s seat. Still, the two political parties worked together in at least some fashion on the vast majority of bills passed and signed into law this past year, a review from the Ohio Capital Journal found.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed 21 bills into law in his first year in office. Each had either one or two “primary” sponsors. Other legislators can elect to be named as “co-sponsors” as they so choose.

Many of the bills signed were perfunctory and uncontroversial in nature. An example was Senate Bill 24, which established an Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias Task Force in Ohio. It was sponsored by state Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Maineville, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights. Twenty-eight of the other 31 state senators were named as co-sponsors. 

To break down the 21 signed bills:

  • 5 (including SB 24) had bipartisan primary sponsorship and also bipartisan co-sponsorship in both chambers
  • 2 had bipartisan primary sponsorship and bipartisan co-sponsorship in one chamber
  • 11 were sponsored by only one party, but had bipartisan co-sponsorship in both chambers
  • 2 were sponsored by only one party, but had bipartisan co-sponsorship in one chamber

That leaves one bill that was sponsored by one party and had no bipartisanship sponsorship whatsoever in the House and Senate.

That bill? Senate Bill 23, better known as the “Heartbeat Bill” or “six-week abortion ban.” It was introduced by Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, and co-sponsored by 18 fellow Republican senators and 46 Republican representatives. The bill sought to outlaw abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. 

The bill passed in the Senate 18-13, with only Republicans voting in favor (and four Republicans joining the minority Democrats in voting against). The bill passed in the House 56-40, again with no Democrats voting in favor, and four Republicans voting against. DeWine signed the bill into law a day later, but a federal judge blocked the legislation from taking effect while a court battle would be decided regarding the bill’s legal merits. 

Looking ahead

With 2019 being the first year of the 133rd General Assembly’s two-year term, there are many hundreds more bills currently under consideration or have yet to be introduced. 

With the new assembly came a new House Speaker. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, won his position after a bitter fight with former Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, in part by obtaining the support of 26 Ohio House Democrats.

There are 69 bills that have passed the House and have moved to the Senate. Likewise, the Senate has passed 55 bills awaiting action by the House.

Bipartisanship is evident in nearly all of these bills.

Sixty-one of the 69 bills passed by the House had primary sponsorship or co-sponsorship involving both parties. In the Senate, 47 of the 55 bills were similarly bipartisan. 

In the case of the Senate, Republicans used the supermajority to their advantage to pass bills dealing with hot-button issues such as abortion and gun rights without much (or any) Democratic support. 

You can see data of the 133rd General Assembly’s bills tracked by the Ohio Capital Journal here

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Tyler Buchanan
Tyler Buchanan

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.