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2009-10 session

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2009-10 session

What passed or didn’t

A sampling of the 2009-10 legislative session:

What became law

Criminal investigations: Lawmakers developed new state standards for retaining DNA evidence, required the taking of DNA from anyone arrested on a felony charge, and required new procedures for suspect lineups.

Human trafficking: Ohio will make the offense of human trafficking a separate felony, after reports showed the problem is prevalent in parts of the state.

Economic development: Lawmakers implemented some new tax credits and other incentives to help businesses.

Education: Lawmakers capped college tuition increases at 3.5 percent per year and revamped the funding formula for K-12 schools.

Telecommunication: Lawmakers revised outdated regulations to account for the variety of services available today. Supporters said the bill will lead to a better infrastructure and more products for consumers.

Third Frontier: Lawmakers placed a $700 million, four-year extension on the May ballot, and it passed. The fund helps start-up companies involved in high-tech, alternative-energy and biomedical fields.

Casino regulations: Voters approved four new casinos in Ohio, and lawmakers passed implementing legislation, including the creation of the Casino Control Commission.

What didn’t pass

Foreclosure help: The House passed two bills to deal with the foreclosure crisis: one to impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosure filings and regulate loan servicers, and the other to protect renters when a dwelling goes into foreclosure. The Senate declined to act, saying an improved economy was better medicine.

Payday lending: A law passed in 2008 was supposed to cap annual interest rates for the two-week loans at 28 percent, but lenders avoided the limit by changing licenses. The House passed a new effort to enforce the lower rate, but the Senate did not act.

Regulatory changes: Both the House and Senate passed their own version of bills designed to improve state regulatory processes. The chambers could not agree on a final bill. Source: Columbus Dispatch

Prison sentencing: An effort to provide some relief to Ohio’s overcrowded, expensive prison system — by shifting more non-violent criminals to community-based centers and allowing prisoners to accumulate more earned credit — was discussed at length. Despite bipartisan support, it didn’t pass.

Puppy mills: Ohio has become known nationally for its loose regulation of inhumane puppy mills. For the second consecutive session, the issue was debated at length but did not pass.

Performance audits: A bill requiring the state auditor to examine state agencies to identify inefficiencies passed the Senate but died in the House.

Redistricting: The House and Senate passed separate proposals for changing Ohio’s hyper-partisan process for drawing legislative and congressional districts, but they could not agree on a final measure.

Health coverage: Bills requiring health-insurance plans to cover autism spectrum disorders and diabetes passed the House but died in the Senate.

Election law: The House and Senate could not agree on a number of changes to fix problems with Ohio election law, particularly provisional ballots, absentee ballots and ‘golden week,’ when people can register and vote at the same time.

Texting: A bill banning texting while driving passed the House but did not move in the Senate.