Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today in the Ohio Senate

At today's session (1:30 p.m.), the Senate will consider the following legislation:
  • Election Reform: Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo), adopts new standards designed to improve the integrity and accessibility of Ohio's election system.  First, the legislation would create a system that allows Ohioans to register and change their voting address online, cutting paperwork costs for local boards of elections and increasing convenience for voters who need to update their personal information.  Second, the bill also makes critical improvements to Ohio's statewide voter database, creating a data-sharing agreement with other state agencies, as well as other states, to develop a more centralized and accurate record of voters.  Third, Senate Bill 148 establishes uniform statewide standards for absentee and early voting.  Finally, it adopts new guidelines to improve the casting and counting of provisional ballots, which are used by voters who fail to meet certain eligibility requirements.  
  • Probate Code Revisions:  Senate Bill 124, sponsored by Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), is designed to modernize Ohio's probate code, which governs wills and estates.  The current law contains numerous sections that have not changed since the inception of the Ohio Revised Code in 1953.  Senate Bill 124 would make technical changes in terminology throughout the code, eliminating unnecessary gender specific language and replacing outdated words and phrases ("jurymen" with "jurors," "his order" to "judge's order," "stenographer" to "court reporter).  The bill also makes substantive changes in order to adopt current best practices related to the responsibilities of probate courts and the administration of estates.
  • Juvenile Interstate Compact:  Senate Bill 122, sponsored by Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), would bring Ohio into compliance with 46 other states and jurisdictions that have adopted new reforms to the Interstate Compact for Juveniles, a collaborative mechanism used to ensure that youth on probation or parole receive supervision when they move across state lines.  Senator Oelslager testified in committee, "If Ohio is not part of the revised compact, many of these youths could end up in Ohio without supervision."  About 190 Ohio youth are currently under another state's probation or parole supervision.  Another 250 youth from other states are supervised in Ohio by the Department of Youth Services (DYS) through the Ohio courts.  Without a compact in place, Ohio would have no legal recourse to supervise these youth.  DYS also expressed concern that Ohio would become an asylum for youth attempting to flee prosecution from their home state.
Additional Notes:  At the beginning of today's session, the Senate will swear in William Coley II, who was appointed by the Senate Republican Caucus to fill the vacancy in Ohio's 4th Senate District, which represents all of Butler County.