Ohio Legislature

The Ohio House has passed a bill to require training and certification for a new group of professionals who will be available to guide consumers through the new health insurance exchange.

The measure cleared Wednesday on a 56-32 vote, and it now heads to the Senate.

These so-called health navigators will help educate consumers and small businesses about the new online markets created by the federal health care law. Through these exchanges, consumers will be able to buy individual private policies and apply for government subsidies to help pay their premiums.

The so-called "Heartbeat Bill" is dead in this session of the legislature, according to Republican Senate president Tom Niehaus. But its backers say they won't give up, and are still hoping for a last-minute maneuver to get it to the Senate floor before the end of the year. But one supporter of restrictions on abortion who's not getting involved is Gov. John Kasich.

"I let the legislature do its job, and then I respond.  I try not to wade into the legislature," says Kasich.  "I don't get in the middle of legislative activity."

Environmental activists and consumer advocates are breathing a sigh of relief. Ohio lawmakers apparently are NOT going to change the state’s energy efficiency program during the last days of the current legislative session.

The program requires electric companies to lower overall power usage by giving money to people and businesses that buy energy-saving appliances and equipment. To fund the program, all electricity customers pay a surcharge on their monthly electric bills.

Sponsors say a bill passed by the Ohio House would give school districts more flexibility in making up snow days and other lost time.

The bill would change state law regarding the time students must spend in school. It would require them to spend a minimum number of hours in school each year instead of a minimum number of days.

House Bill 191 changes the minimum school year from 182 days to 455 hours for half-day kindergarten, 910 hours for grades one through six, and 1001 hours for grades seven through 12.

Ohio consumer advocates and environmentalists have been worrying out loud that state legislators might water down or wipe out a 4-year old program that encourages electricity customers to be more energy-efficient. Now, as statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports --- some comments by the top man in the Ohio Senate show those activists have good REASON to worry.

An Ohio house committee has recommended a bill that would re-prioritize funding for family planning services so that Planned Parenthood would be last on the list.

An Ohio legislative committee has recessed without voting on a bill that would crack down on high-volume dog breeding operations, dubbed puppy mills.

An aide to the bill's sponsor said it was unclear whether further action would come Tuesday night.

The bill would beef up regulations on the care and treatment of animals housed in large-scale establishments and distinguish the facilities from traditional dog kennels. It also requires those considered "dog retailers" to be licensed.

An Ohio legislator thinks the state should offer taxpayers the option of getting their Ohio refunds on prepaid debit cards.

State Sen. Eric Kearney says his proposal could save the state money and benefit low-income residents who don't have bank accounts. The Cincinnati Democrat says the option would give them a safe and easy way to get their refunds, avoiding check-cashing fees.

A federal survey found that about 414,000 Ohio households didn't have a checking or savings account last year.

An Ohio House committee is scheduled to take a possible vote on a bill that could put Planned Parenthood in the back of the line when it comes to money for family planning services. That’s just one of the bills that lawmakers will likely consider in the coming lame duck session of the Ohio legislature.

For the fifth time in 100 years, Ohioans have rejected the chance to revisit Ohio's Constitution.

Such a forum would have allowed debate on issues such as redistricting, term limits, casino gambling and gay marriage. Instead, voters rejected Issue 1 in Tuesday's election by strong margins in every county.

Under state law, the question of calling a constitutional convention must be presented to voters every 20 years. Voters in an era of renewed interest in constitutional issues were thought to perhaps have more interest in a gathering to revise the founding document.

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