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Ohio House rejects Ohio Senate’s education overhaul bill

Ohio House meets late into the night on Wednesday for a marathon session.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio House meets late into the night on Wednesday for a marathon session.

Lawmakers were locked in a stalemate over a few issues on the last day of the lame-duck session in Ohio, that included a proposal to make some of the biggest changes ever to the state’s education department.

After hours of talks behind closed doors, the Senate rolled it’s education overhaul bill into a bill to ban transgender athletes from girls’ sports. The amendment appeared to be a move to get more votes from the conservative members of the House GOP caucus who were reluctant to support the education bill.

The bill was also amended to include language that protects students against discrimination over their COVID-19 vaccine status.

However, in the early morning hours, the more conservative members joined House Democrats in voting against the bill.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he’s disappointed with the outcome.

“But I'm glad we took the vote, because we kind of have on the record who is where, and there probably is a lot more due diligence that needs to be done on that issue,” said Huffman.

The education overhaul bill would strip most of the power from the state board of education and give it to the governor’s office. The bill would rename the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce. It would also create a director of the department who would serve as a cabinet member of the governor’s administration.

That Senate bill, SB178, was robust and spanned more than 2,000 pages.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said they were working against the clock to get support for the measure.

“One of the problems was it came over here very, very late and I have mentioned that problem before, and a lot of members were still trying to understand it. We did make some changes. It created a lot of comfort for members, but there was still that issue of not entirely understanding it and being able to think through the long-term implications,” said Cupp.

The Senate plans to introduce the education overhaul bill again next year in the new General Assembly session.

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