Ohio General Assembly

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Ohio General Assembly

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General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years) in Senate, 4 terms (8 years) in House
2015 session start:   January 5, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Keith Faber (R)
House Speaker:  Cliff Rosenberger (R)
Majority Leader:   Thomas Patton (R) (Senate),
Barbara Sears (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Joseph Schiavoni (D) (Senate),
Fred Strahorn (D) (House)
Members:  33 (Senate), 99 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art II, Ohio Constitution
Salary:   $60,584/year
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
17 seats (Senate)
99 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Redistricting:  Ohio Redistricting Commission has control
The Ohio General Assembly is the state legislature of Ohio. It consists of the 99-member Ohio House of Representatives and the 33-member Ohio State Senate. Both houses of the General Assembly meet at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

As of April 2015, Ohio is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio State Senate, Ohio Governor


The second Ohio Constitution, effective in 1851, took away the power of the General Assembly to choose the state's executive's officers, granting that right to the voters. A complicated formula apportioned legislators to Ohio counties and the number of seats in the legislative houses varied from year-to-year.

The Ohio Politics Almanac by Michael F. Curtin (Kent State University Press) described apportionment thus:

The new [1851] constitution ... contained a complicated formula for apportionment, the so-called "major fraction rule." Under it, the state's population was divided by 100, with the resulting quotient being the ratio of representation in the House of Representatives. Any county with a population equal to at least half the ratio was entitled to one representative; a county with a population of less than half the ratio was grouped with an adjacent county for districting; a county containing a population of at least one and three-fourths the ratio was entitled to two representatives; a county with a population equal to three times the ratio was entitled to three representatives. To determine Senate districts, a similar procedure was followed; the starting point, however was figured by dividing the state's population by 35. The ratios for the House and Senate and the resulting apportionment was determined by a board consisting of the governor, auditor, and secretary of state.

In 1903, the apportionment system was modified by the Hanna amendment, which also gave the governor veto power over the assembly's acts, which could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the assembly's houses. The last state constitutional convention, held in 1912, gave the governor a line-item veto, but reduced the supermajority required for overriding the veto to three-fifths. In 1956, a referendum increased the terms of state senators from two to four years.

The Hanna amendment (which guaranteed each county at least one representative and all members elected at large) guaranteed that rural areas of Ohio would dominate the legislature by giving them disproportionate representation. Several decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s, however, mandated apportionment proportional to population. Reapportionment was ordered in 1964. Starting with the 1966 election, the number of seats in the two chambers were fixed at their present numbers of 33 and 99.

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Ohio
Partisan breakdown of the Ohio legislature from 1992-2013

Ohio State Senate: During every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Ohio State Senate. The Ohio State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Ohio was under Republican trifectas for the final three years of the study period.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Ohio State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Ohio State House of Representatives for 17 years while the Democrats were the majority for five years. Ohio was under Republican trifectas for the final three years of the study period.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Ohio, the Ohio State Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Ohio state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Ohio state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Ohio had Republican trifectas during most of the years of the study, from 1995-2006 and from 2011-2013. The state's highest SQLI ranking, finishing 20th, occurred in 1997 during a Republican trifecta. Its lowest ranking, finishing 38th, occurred from 2008-2010 during a divided government.

Chart displaying the partisanship of Ohio government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).


Article II of the Ohio Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to meet. Section 8 of Article II states that the regular session is to convene on the first Monday in January of each year, or the following day if that Monday is a legal holiday.

Section 8 also contains rules for convening special sessions of the General Assembly. It empowers the Governor of Ohio or the presiding officers of the General Assembly to convene a special session. For the presiding officers to convene the session, they must act jointly.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the General Assembly will be in session from January 5 through December 31 (Projected).

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid eligibility and increase accountability for charter schools.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 through December 31.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included raising taxes on gas and oil drilling, reforming Ohio’s municipal income tax system, changing the state's election and concealed-weapons laws, and reforming Medicaid and other health-care issues. Both chambers are also looking to reduce the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates.[2]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 to December 31.

Major issues

Keith Faber (R) took over as President of the Senate and the main focus of the legislature was adopting a new biennial state budget. Additionally, lawmakers addressed casino regulation, state collective-bargaining laws, Medicare expansion, and prison overcrowding.[3]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Assembly began its legislative session on January 3.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 3 through December 31.[4]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly convened its legislative session on January 4th, and it remains in session throughout the year.[5]

Role in state budget

See also: Ohio state budget and finances
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The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[6][7]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
  2. State agencies submit their requests to the governor in September and October.
  3. Agency hearings are held in October and November.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in February (this deadline is extended to mid-March for a newly-elected governor).
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in June. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The biennium begins July 1 of odd-numbered years.

Ohio is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[7]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the state legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget.[7]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Ohio was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[8]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[9] According to the report, Ohio received a grade of D- and a numerical score of 51, indicating that Ohio was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[9]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Ohio was given a grade of B in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[10]


See also: Redistricting in Ohio

The Ohio Apportionment Board is responsible for legislative redistricting. It is composed of 5 members: the Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State, and two members selected by the legislative leaders of the two major parties.

2010 census

Ohio received its 2010 local census data in early March 2011. Although the state population showed net growth, Ohio's large cities recorded significant population loss. Of the state's five largest cities only Columbus showed population growth. Cleveland suffered the sharpest decline, losing 17.1% of its population.[11]

The Ohio Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research assisted the General Assembly and Ohio Apportionment Board in drafting new maps. Four of the five members of the Board were Republicans. By a vote of 4-1 they gave final approval to new maps on September 28, 2011 - two days after posting them online. The lone Democrat on the Board, Rep. Armond Budish, opposed the maps, saying the plan "quarantines" Democrats in 1/3 of the legislative districts.[12]

On January 4, 2012, Democrats filed suit against the legislative maps, saying they violated constitutional requirements for compactness and preservation of county and municipal boundaries. The Ohio Supreme Court took the case but, due to the time factor, ruled the new maps would stand for the 2012 elections, with possible revisions to apply starting in 2014.[13]

Term limits

Republican activists, led by Fred A. Lennon, began pursuing term limits in the 1980s. In 1992, a referendum set term limits of eight consecutive years -- four consecutive terms in the house and two consecutive terms in the senate. Terms are considered consecutive if they are separated by less than four years.


State Senate

The Ohio State Senate is the upper house in Ohio's legislature. Members of the Ohio Senate are limited to two consecutive four-year elected terms. Service to fill out another member's uncompleted term does not count against the state's term limits. There are 33 members elected from individual districts. The current party distribution is 21 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Each member represents an average of 349,591 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[14] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 344,035.[15] Each Senate district corresponds exactly to 3 of the 99 State House districts.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 10
     Republican Party 23
Total 33

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Ohio State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Ohio State Senate.PNG

State House

The Ohio House of Representatives is the lower house of Ohio's legislature. The House first met in Chillicothe on March 3 1803, under the later superseded constitution of that year. The 127th General Assembly convened in January 2007. There are 99 members of the house, elected from single-member districts. Every even-numbered year, all the seats are up for re-election. The current party distribution is 59 Republicans and 40 Democrats. Each member represents an average of 116,530 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[14] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 114,678.[15]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 34
     Republican Party 65
Total 99

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Ohio State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Ohio State House.PNG



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Ohio Legislature are paid $60,584/year during legislative sessions. Legislators receive no per diem.[16]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Ohio legislators assume office January 1st.

Joint legislative committees

See also: Public policy in Ohio

There are seven joint legislative committees in the Ohio State Legislature.

See also

External links


  1. www.stowsentry.com, "Minimum wage, Medicaid among priorities for Ohio Senate Democrats," January 21, 2015
  2. www.cleveland.com, "Ohio lawmakers' 2014 agenda includes budget changes, tax overhauls," accessed January 10, 2014
  3. The Columbus Dispatch, "Ohio Senate’s new leader brings aggressive style," January 6, 2013
  4. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 19, 2014(Archived)
  6. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  8. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  10. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  11. Examiner.com, "4 of 5 big Ohio cities, counties lose people, Whites still dominate, Census says," March 10, 2011
  12. The Columbus Dispatch, "Reapportionment: Maps tilt Ohio more to GOP," September 24, 2011
  13. Daily Jeffersonian, "No Ohio Redistricting Decision Before Election," February 19, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  16. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013