This month in public policy

CreativeOhio's monthly guide to Ohio's political landscape and its impact on arts and culture

FEBRUARY 26, 2024

house bill 2

On February 7, 2024 the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB2 by a vote of 75-19. The bill intends to allocate more than $2 billion in state money, including $350 million of the $700 million One Time Strategic Community Investment Fund to support transformational projects around the state. View the bill.

SENATE PRESIDENT
HAS CONCERNS

As the House was deliberating HB2 in Session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-12) issued a press release on the pending legislation. He expressed concern over the House’s decision to move forward with passing this spending bill prior to any official negotiations with the Senate. As such, the timeline and fate of HB2 remain unclear. The Senate will continue to follow its previously announced timeline for this year’s capital budget and for the One Time Strategic Community Investment Fund.

Ohio’s upcoming primary election: March 19, 2024

Ohio will hold its primary election next month. Candidates will be nominated for all 99 seats in the Ohio House and half of the 33 seats in the Ohio Senate. Focus remains on House incumbents who look to defend their seats against primary challengers, along with several ‘open seats’ currently held by term-limited legislators. Additionally, in a hotly contested election, Republicans will vote to nominate a U.S. Senate candidate to challenge Senator Sherrod Brown in November. Businessman Bernie Moreno, State Senator Matt Dolan, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose are all vying for the Republican nomination.

House Bill 68

The Ohio Legislature returned in January to begin year two of the 135th General Assembly. Despite limited activity thus far, the House and the Senate voted to override Governor DeWine’s veto of H.B. 68, known as the ‘Saving Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act’ and the ‘Save Women’s Sports Act.’ The vote occurred mainly along party lines, with a majority of Republicans voting to override the veto.

Ohio Primary Election

On March 19, 2024, Ohioans will take to the polls to vote in the Primary Election. The 99 members of the Ohio House and half of the Ohio Senate are up for re-election. All eyes will be on the group of incumbents looking to defend their seats against primary challengers, along with competitive ‘open seats’ left by term-limited members of the House and Senate.

Strategic Community Investment Fund

Throughout the spring, the legislature will turn its focus on the capital budget and the One-time Strategic Community Investment Fund. This will result in hundreds of millions of dollars being distributed to capital investment projects around the state. The House has already begun work on this effort, while the Senate is likely to follow suit following the March election.

What is the one-time Strategic Community Investment Fund?

In addition to the traditional capital biennium budget, the legislature has another $700M to distribute with the One-Time Strategic Community Investment Fund. The fund was created during the state budget process with a $700M transfer from the General Revenue Fund. While the legislation does not specifically outline the allowable uses for this fund, the intent is to fund transformational one-time investments in communities throughout the state.

Action items