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Lawmakers Could Take On Controversial Bills During Lame Duck Session

Ohio Statehouse Legislative Chamber
Bob Hall

This week, Ohio lawmakers are returning for a lame-duck session, with hearings set on a so-called "right to work" bill and a Republican-backed bill on free speech on college campuses.

Republican legislative leaders are talking about other priorities but suggest action on the controversial measures is possible.

Senate President Larry Obhof said he doesn’t expect lame duck to be too busy, since incoming governor Mike DeWine is also a Republican. He said he wants to enact criminal justice, regulatory and occupational licensing reforms – but there could be more.

“We will be active," Obhof said. "We will keep our promises to our constituents. We will keep Ohio moving in the right direction. And if we flag something as a priority, you can be certain that we’re going to pass it."

The Enact Campus Free Speech Act, or HB 363, would ban so-called "free speech zones," make student activity fees optional, and prevent universiites from dis-inviting speakers based on reaction to their ideas. That bill was introduced last year but hasn't moved out of committee.

House Speaker Ryan Smith has talked about legislation on tracking rape kits and measures on the opioid crisis, but added that “we’re also going to look at our opportunities.”

Legislators also said they would considera "Stand Your Ground" bill, which would make it easier to use lethal force in self-defense, but Gov. John Kasich said he would veto it. Smith and Obhof say they aren't planning to look at a package of gun reforms that Kasich is pushing instead.