The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee heard extensive testimony over the week on HJR19 (LaTourette-Holmes) which proposes changing the constitutional and statutory initiative process. While flagged for a possible vote on both Wednesday and Thursday, it did not get reported out. Asked by Hannah News what would happen with the resolution during hearings the week of Dec. 10, Chairman Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) said he could only comment that it was an "ongoing process."
Flexibility for the next two high school graduating classes and movement toward a long-term fix to diploma requirements passed the Senate unanimously Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk after the House concurred, also on a near-unanimous vote. The Senate vote on HB491 (Edwards) followed action on Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee which amended the bill to give class of 2019 students the same flexibility in meeting graduation requirements given to the class of 2018, while class of 2020 students would see somewhat different requirements.
Superintendent Paolo DeMaria sent a statutorily required report to lawmakers Friday on how the state should define online learning, part of the General Assembly's efforts to reform e-school regulation and funding in the wake of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) saga. Lawmakers used SB216 (Huffman) as the vehicle for these efforts, establishing the Joint Committee on E-School Funding and requiring DeMaria to submit recommendations for defining online learning by the end of November. The Joint Education Oversight Committee, to which he sent his report, is to call at least one public hearing on the recommendations and issue its own report by year's end.
Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) Tuesday released the final report of the Ohio Speaker's Task Force on Education and Poverty, which met from July 2017 through November 2017, to examine the issue of poverty and education, and how that relates to the achievement gap. The task force focused on the following areas: community and health education prevention and awareness in high-poverty areas; national perspectives on education and poverty; state policies and data collection currently in place; dropout prevention and recovery programs; career technical education; and early childhood education.
Among other bills passed by the House on Wednesday included HB705 (Hambley) addressing the circumstances in which school district and educational service center treasurers may be held liable for a loss of public funds.
Also passing the Senate on Wednesday were the following bills:
HB338 (Ginter), which permits medical professionals listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and chiropractors to perform the annual physical examination required under the Ohio State Highway Patrol for bus drivers. The bill passed 30-0.
In Senate action on Thursday, HB58 (Brenner-Slaby), which deals with cursive handwriting passed 27-2, now goes to the governor after the Senate agreed to House changes 24-3, and HB291 (Wiggam), which allows local governments to use insurance instead of bonds as protection against liability from actions of dishonest employees, was approved. It passed 29-0.
On Thursday, the Ohio House moved legislation addressing education licenses that the Senate amended to include an extension of alternative high school graduation pathways through the class of 2020.
The Senate Education Committee narrowly defeated changes to the EdChoice school voucher program amid questions of cost, though the committee's chair said state scholarships are due for the type of wholesale review sought by the sponsor of the changes. The committee voted 5-6 against adopting Sen. Matt Huffman's (R-Lima) proposed amendment.