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When the Ohio General Assembly adjourned in 2020, members left behind several high-profile bills that never made it to the governor’s desk – such as a school funding overhaul and a sweeping domestic violence bill that would require police to screen victims for their risk of murder and help connect them to job training and other resources. Lawmakers will arrive in Columbus in 2021 with pressure to pass a two-year state budget, and will likely continue to wrestle with Gov. Mike DeWine on whether to limit his authority to create public health orders.

Below are the priorities of legislative leaders in both chambers and parties.

Huffman was elected president by the Senate Republican caucus in November. He’s arranged to be sworn in from his home because he has the coronavirus.

-K-12 funding overhaul. The Ohio House passed House Bill 305, after years of work on the issue, with broad bipartisan support. The bill died in the Senate during the lame duck, but Huffman said that he wants to get funding reform passed in the first six months of 2021. “With the House’s plan, I think that tees things up,” he said. The Ohio Supreme Court decided the state’s school funding scheme was unconstitutional nearly 25 years ago.

-A review and possible changes to how the state and local health departments make public health decisions — “and how the legislature stays involved,” Huffman said.

-Changing the amount of assets and wealth people can have before they qualify for public benefits. Huffman believes some Ohioans have a relatively high level of wealth and assets but still qualify for benefits. He said this results in less money being available to people who really need assistance.

-Requiring more transparency around hospital ownership of small clinics. Huffman said there’s been a trend of hospital systems increasingly buying smaller clinics and physician practices. This is hiking up the amount insurers and government health programs pay for services, he said.

-A review and changes to the cost of public higher education. Students take on tremendous debt to get educated, and sometimes they don’t graduate, or they take years to obtain their degree, Huffman said.

“We’re going to have a lot to do next year to make sure we meet the needs of the families and small businesses that have been most impacted by the pandemic, and that starts with passing a fair budget that puts workers first and helps our economy recover. We’ll also have to tackle two major issues that have set Ohioans back for years: gerrymandered districts and unconstitutional school funding. My hope is that 2021 will be the year that we fix both once and for all so Ohioans have a better chance at receiving a good education and fair representation, no matter which ZIP code they live in.”

“I’ll be discussing with our caucus’ new and returning members regarding House priorities for 2021. However, retaining and creating jobs, keeping our local businesses and our state’s economy open, and a new funding framework for local schools will certainly continue to be a priority for our members, as will a number of other issues, such as education, health care and COVID-related issues.”

“House Democrats will be focused on many of the same things we were focused on in 2020 that the Republican supermajority never allowed to get done, like a real, statewide plan to control the virus, protect workers, boost consumer confidence and invest in an economy that works for all of us.”

Sykes said that Democrats are committed to repealing House Bill 6, which sought to bail out nuclear power plants formerly owned by a FirstEnergy subsidiary but is now associated with a federal corruption investigation of whether $60 million in bribes were paid to benefit the political career of former House Speaker Larry Householder. She also wants to pass Aisha’s Law, which seeks to protect domestic violence victims by requiring police to screen for whether they face the risk of murder, among other requirements. She would like the legislature to pass measures for paid family and sick leave, criminal justice system reform, “commonsense gun safety” and House Bill 305, the school funding overhaul that died in the Senate.

“We may be the minority, but our caucus represents millions of Ohioans. Their voices matter and so does ours. Our constituents know we work for them, not special interests, in the Statehouse and in 2021, we will continue to fight to restore the Ohio Promise for all.”

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