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The Ohio Senate stayed through the night on Dec. 11, wrapping up activity for the year early into the next morning. Negotiations lasted through the night between House and Senate leadership before a deal was reached on House Joint Resolution 12 to establish a new redistricting process.

The Senate tweaked the House proposal to ensure that there would not be more than two legislative district maps in a 10-year period in the event of an impasse by the Apportionment Board (Board). The resolution also provides guidance to the Board on what considerations should be made when drafting the new maps, such as keeping counties, municipalities, and townships together to the extent possible.

The measure passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support, and will now return to the House for acceptance of Senate amendments on Dec. 17. If approved, the resolution will go to the Nov. 2015 ballot for a vote.

Among the bills also passed by the Senate during the marathon session was H.B. 319, a proposal to permit natural gas companies to apply to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for approval of one or more economic development projects.

Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) told a committee the bill would allow local governments or economic development entities to more aggressively pursue economic development projects that might not otherwise move forward due to the unavailability of adequate natural gas infrastructure. Upon PUCO approval, a local distribution company (LDC) would be permitted to recover its infrastructure investment through a rider applied to all the LDC's customers. The annual investment cannot exceed $2 per customer for economic development projects with an identified end user.

The Senate is not expected to return to the Statehouse this year. The House will meet on Dec. 17 to accept Senate amendments to a number of bills and send-off outgoing House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina).

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