Ohio General Assembly Ends Rare Special Session ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­

Ohio General Assembly Ends Rare Special Session With Bills to Address Presidential Deadline and Foreign Contribution Ban

Government Relations

In what should have been an off week for the Ohio General Assembly, the House and Senate have instead been meeting this week in a special session. Pursuant to Article III, Section 8 of the Ohio Constitution, Governor Mike DeWine called for the special session for the purpose of passing legislation that addresses ensuring both major party presidential candidates will be on the Ohio ballot in November, as well as legislation that would prohibit campaign spending by foreign nationals. This is the first time in 20 years that Ohio has held a special session, which is constitutionally limited to only the purposes listed in the Governor’s proclamation.

This situation arose because the General Assembly failed in its attempts earlier this month to correct the timing issue for President Joe Biden to appear on Ohio’s ballot in November. The Democratic National Convention, where Biden is to be formally nominated in late August, falls after Ohio's ballot certification deadline of August 7. This is not the first time the General Assembly has had to enact temporary fixes to the state’s deadline – adjustments were required in 2012 and 2020 to accommodate candidates of both parties.

While past corrections have been noncontroversial, straightforward amendments to the deadline, this effort became entwined with Republican efforts to ban foreign nationals from contributing to statewide ballot measures. Democrats have adamantly opposed this effort, saying it is unnecessary as such contributions are already banned under federal law and that the current proposals go beyond the federal restrictions due to vague language and give too much enforcement power to the Attorney General, a partisan office.

In a sign of the ongoing dysfunction between the two chambers, leadership in the House and Senate had different approaches to conducting the special session – with the House insisting a special session requires the introduction of new bills and the Senate saying it allows action on pending bills from the regular session.

“The language can be the same, but from a process standpoint, from all past occurrences of special sessions … it is a new piece of legislation that has to go through the process as if it is a separate session altogether. And those are the only two topics that we are allowed to discuss in the session,” said House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill).

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the most recent special session in 2004 started over with new legislation because the Senate had already adjourned. But he said other examples of special sessions showed lawmakers proceeding with the typical bill numbering conventions. “I think, procedurally, we’re doing what the Constitution, the case law and attorney general opinions say,” Huffman said.

The Senate voted Tuesday in a special session to amend legislation on the floor that addressed the numbering of statewide issues on the ballot, House Bill 271, so that it now includes the fix to the certification deadline for the November ballot as well as the foreign contributions ban. The bill then passed 21-8.

The House introduced two new bills, House Bill 1 for the foreign contribution ban and House Bill 2 to amend the ballot deadline. The House Government Oversight Committee held hearings on the bills on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. A substitute version of House Bill 1 was accepted in committee on Thursday morning to address the differences between it and the foreign contribution ban language the Senate passed in House Bill 271. House Bill 1 was passed by the House on a party-line vote of 64-31. House Bill 2 passed by a vote of 63-31, with all no votes coming from Republicans.

In response, the Senate scheduled a session today to vote on the House bills. House Bill 1 passed by a vote of 24-7 and House Bill 2 passed by a vote of 30-1.

Neither bill has an emergency clause attached and thus will not become effective until 90 days after the Governor’s signature. If the Governor signs the bills today, which we would expect to happen, they will become effective on August 30 – just one day before the new candidate certification deadline of September 1.

The next regularly scheduled House and Senate sessions have been announced for Wednesday, June 12, and Wednesday, June 26. Both chambers will then be out for the summer and fall campaigns.


For additional information on this topic, please contact your regular Calfee attorney or the author(s) listed below:

   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 

Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP | 1200 Huntington Center, 41 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 | 614.621.1500

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