Lawmakers didn't let the weather keep them from getting to work on several big issues. The state's $7 billion transportation budget easily cleared the Ohio House this week. The House also approved a bill expanding the availability of a drug overdose antidote called naloxone, which is being used across Ohio to save addicts on the brink of death. The Senate has unanimously passed a bill to bar schools from using the results of new proficiency tests to determine a student's advancement to the next grade level. Meanwhile, state school superintendent Richard Ross says the state won't withhold funding to penalize schools for students who are being opting out of standardized tests. Two new area codes are coming in Ohio in the next two years. The head of the Republican National Committee says its first primary debate for the next presidential election will be in Cleveland. Gov. John Kasich came no closer to making an announcement on his presidential plans - if he has any - though he certainly got pundits talking by traveling to Capitol Hill to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint meeting of Congress.
This week, the US Supreme Court considered cases that could have major implications for Ohio. One was the big case challenging whether the federal government can pay subsidies to people in states that don't have state-created health insurance marketplaces set up after the Affordable Care Act. If the court rules the subsidies aren't allowed in states using the federal marketplace, that means some 235,000 Ohioans who get them now and aren't eligible for Medicaid or Medicaid expansion could lose their health insurance. Maurice Thompson is with the Tea Party backed 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, and says the state couldn't set up its own exchange because of the Health Care Freedom Amendment passed in 2011. But Reps. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Nicky Antonio (D-Lakewood) say because the Affordable Care Act would still stand even if the subsidies are struck down, that Health Care Freedom Amendment is meaningless in the face of federal legislation.
This week the US Supreme Court also heard arguments on redistricting - and again, the eventual ruling could have an effect on Ohio. The case out of Arizona seeks to answer the question of whether a commission approved by voters can draw Congressional district lines, or if elected lawmakers are the only ones who can create the maps. Two lawmakers who are experts in the complicated subject of redistricting discuss the issue: Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley Township) and Rep. Mike Curtin (D-Columbus).
March 6, 2015