2012 was supposed to be a slow year at the Statehouse, with half of the seats in the Ohio Senate on the ballot, and with the two-year budget firmly in place. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler sat down with the departing Senate president and the minority leader to talk about the year that was – and what’s ahead.
There were 108 bills that started in the Senate that passed in the last two years – 64 in 2012, and most were bipartisan. But there were notable issues that divided lawmakers, including abortion, gun laws and education questions. Minority Leader Eric Kearney says it’s been hard for Democrats to be heard in a chamber where Republicans dominate 2-1.
“We are big boys and big girls, we’re smart people, and we need to figure out a way to get around that. And so that’s our job,” says Kearney.
Senate President Tom Niehaus says he tried to encourage bi-partisan sponsorship of bills. And Niehaus predicts that a proposal that didn’t even get introduced - Gov. John Kasich’s controversial hike in the tax on oil and natural gas drillers – will go through.
“People think it’s a great idea as long as they don’t have to pay it. And since most people don’t see themselves paying the severance tax, they think it’s just great,” says Niehaus.
Niehaus will be watching the next General Assembly from the sidelines – he was term limited in the Senate, and is now looking for a new job.
To hear the entire interview with the Senate President and the Minority Leader, tune in to "The State of Ohio" on PBS stations statewide this weekend or check out http://www.statenews.org.