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Ohio lawmakers advance more than 50 bills in 12-hour session, including transgender bathroom ban

Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau

In a 12-hour long marathon session Wednesday ahead of summer recess, Ohio lawmakers voted to advance more than 50 bills between the House and Senate—a figure not including individual measures they folded together into bigger, omnibus bills.

It was likely the last session before the fall election.

The most pressing agenda item, to pass the $4.2 billion biennial capital appropriations budget after months of negotiations, took only a fraction of floor time. It cleared the Senate 30-1 with an emergency clause and is headed to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Late in the night, lawmakers folded the GOP-backed bathroom bill into Senate Bill 104, an uncontroversial proposal on a college credit program for high school students. Under the amendment, all K-12 schools and colleges—public and private—in Ohio would have to require students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching the gender on their birth certificates.

Rep. Beth Lear (R-Galena) brought the original House Bill 183 forward with Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) and backed the floor amendment Wednesday night.

“Boys and girls should not be in locker rooms together,” Lear said in floor testimony. “They should not be in bathrooms together and they should not be sharing overnight accommodations.”

Several studies, including one from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2019, have shown that restrictive school restroom and locker room policies may be associated with risk to transgender and nonbinary youth.

Democrats cast doubt on the claims that school districts are clamoring for this legislation. Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) offered harsh words to her colleagues across the aisle about the legislature's treatment of transgender Ohioans.

“They are the ones who become the victims of this because you have targeted them time and time again because they are different,” Russo said in floor testimony. “And yes, God made them different and you have used them and you are demonizing them for your own political purposes, and shame on you.”

Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) also tried to propose floor amendments that would have made changes to cannabis law ratified by voters with Issue 2 last fall, but was shot down.

Earlier in the day, lawmakers sent a slew of other bills to DeWine. Some of them include:

  • House Bill 47, which would require heart-shocking devices called automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in all Ohio public schools, charter schools and athletic facilities in midsized towns or larger. It was introduced a month after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a January 2023 game against the Cincinnati Bengals
  • House Bill 56, which would ban hooning, an umbrella term for stunt driving and street takeovers and increases the penalty for fleeing a police officer
  • Senate Bill 214, which would allow human trafficking survivors to erase some criminal records
  • Senate Bill 98, which started as a fraudulent business filings proposal but was heavily amended in the House. It now extends numerous property tax exemptions and also includes a measure changing the way state ballot issues are numbered, making them consecutive through Issue 500 starting in November 2024, instead of starting over at Issue 1 every election
  • Senate Bill 94, which started out as a bill to modernize county recorders records but now includes measures from the CAMPUS Act, among other changes

An even greater number cleared one chamber or the other.

The House took on several energy and utility bills, voting to categorize nuclear energy as “green” and incentivize natural gas infrastructure construction through loans for easements and property tax exemptions.

House Bill 79 got heated debate from both sides of the aisle, ultimately eking out of the House with a 50-45 vote. The bipartisan proposal, introduced by Reps. Seitz and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake), allows electric utilities to create voluntary programs for their customers to cut costs by reducing usage.

Customers would be automatically enrolled and charged a $1.50 monthly fee to utilities for discounts on energy-efficient appliances and electronics to lower energy usage when they aren't home, which can save them money. It now heads to the Senate.

In the Senate, senators voted to pass Senate Bill 173, among other proposals. That bipartisan plan shields election workers from threats or doxxing by protecting their residential and familial information from being disclosed as a public record. The House has to vote on it before it can go to DeWine for his signature.

Lawmakers are now on their annual summer recess, and House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said Wednesday night that absent a dramatic breakthrough, he doesn't see them coming back in the early fall.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at
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