The Ohio House and Senate didn’t reach an agreement this week on the state’s transportation budget. Republicans remain divided over whether to hold a special election in August, and both chambers debated lowering the age to become a police officer.
We break down what it all means In this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained. A podcast created by the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau to catch you up on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less.
This week, host Anna Staver was joined by Ohio Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou.
1) Harder to amend
The ongoing debate over whether to raise the threshold for voter changes to Ohio’s constitution got a little thornier this week.
Republicans want to raise the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment from a simple majority of 50% plus one to 60%, but they can’t seem to agree on when the idea should go before voters.
Senate Republicans said they’d like to call a special election in August, but House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said he doesn’t support that idea.
2) Police officer age
Ohio Republicans are considering two bills that would lower the age when someone can become a police officer from 21 to 18.
“We are experiencing a workforce crisis in law enforcement across the nation and even here in Ohio,” Rep. Josh Williams, R-Oregon, said. And his legislation would give local departments “more options for filling their ranks.”
The change would be permissive, meaning local departments could decide whether to hire teenagers or keep their age requirements at 21.
But opponents, which include Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police, say that they aren’t convinced 18-year-olds “have the maturity and experience to handle the oftentimes complex and life-altering calls officers face daily.”
3) Roads and bridges
Every two years, Ohio writes a massive budget bill just for construction projects that covers everything from railway safety to vehicle registration fees.
Both the Ohio House and Senate have each passed their own version, and the two chambers have until March 31 to reach a compromise.
The two chambers are divided on whether to spend $1 billion on rural highways, lower vehicle registration fees for plug-in hybrids, and permit Ohioans to use just their driver’s license when traveling to Canada and Mexico.
4) Say goodbye to ERIC
Ohio was one of several conservative states that pulled out of a national voter registration database this week.
The Election Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, collects data from different state agencies (BMV, elections) and then shares that with all its member states in order to identify folks who have moved, died or have duplicate registrations.
It sounds straightforward, but conservatives have started to accuse the company of leaning too far left.
Listen to “Ohio Politics Explained” on Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts and TuneIn Radio. The episode is also available by clicking the link in this article.
The USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau serves The Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.