Lame Duck Update

Thinking that things would quiet down after Election Day?  Think again!

While you’re busy getting ready to prepare your turkey dinners, Ohio’s lawmakers are busy curtailing the rights of Ohioans during the legislature’s lame duck session.

What’s a Lame Duck?

“Lame duck” refers to an elected official who is approaching the end of their tenure and whose successor has been elected. The lame duck session occurs after Election Day and lasts for the last few weeks of the current legislative session before the new session starts next January.

The lame duck session is a popular time for current legislators to try to ram through legislation they believe will not pass in the new legislative term. Lame duck session is also a time for legislators to rush through dangerous bills for which they have the votes to override potential vetoes from outgoing Governor Kasich.

Equitas Health has got you covered with a rundown of some of the most important bills we’re watching during lame duck, and with ways you can get involved.

What Are the Top Bills?

Pastor Protection Act

HB 36 would allow ministers to refuse to preside over marriages that are contrary to their religious beliefs and would allow “religious societies” to refuse to host such marriages on their property.

The problem with this bill isn’t that it protects ministers’ rights to refuse to perform ceremonies that go against their religious beliefs—they do and should have those rights. This bill takes that one step further, though, and allows “religious societies” to refuse offering public accommodations to people in a discriminatory way.

The Senate may vote on this bill in the coming weeks. Our President and CEO Bill Hardy testified in opposition to this bill when it was introduced, and we will testify in opposition to it again.

Call your Senators TODAY to urge them to vote NO on this hateful Pastor Protection Act!

Stand Your Ground

Last week, the Ohio House passed HB 228, which would eliminate the duty to retreat, reduce penalties for concealed carry violations, and prohibit municipalities from passing their own gun-related ordinances.

Opponents to the bill, including civil rights groups, anti-gun violence groups, and statewide law enforcement and prosecutors’ organizations, argue that the bill will only increase threats to public safety by encouraging escalation in confrontations. That gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color further underscores the danger of this bill.

The Ohio Senate still has to vote on this bill, so call your Senators TODAY to urge them to vote NO on Ohio’s Stand Your Ground bill!

Six-Week Abortion Ban

Last week, the House also passed HB 258, which would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detectable and as early as six weeks.

Bans like those in HB 258 have never (nor will they ever) decreased the need for abortions. Instead, bills like this one criminalize medical providers and force women into dangerous, desperate, and extreme situations that are often life-threatening.

Call your Senators TODAY to urge them to vote NO on this heartbeat abortion ban!

Help Keep Medicaid Strong!

Join Keep Medicaid Strong NEXT WEDNESDAY in a show of support for Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, as the current legislative session winds down and Ohio prepares for Governor-Elect DeWine’s transition. Ohio’s Medicaid expansion program extended coverage to thousands of Ohioans—including many of our patients—who are living with HIV and who wouldn’t have gained insurance coverage otherwise.

Protecting this expansion program is crucial, so if you’re able, please join Keep Medicaid Strong next week at the Statehouse. The press event will take place on Wednesday, November 28th from 10AM to 11AM in the Ladies’ Gallery. Find more information and RSVP to the event here.

It’s quite telling that the Ohio legislature is moving so quickly on these politically divisive and dangerous bills during lame duck session. Now that they’re passed the electoral deadline, legislators often think that they won’t pay a political price for bills passed in lame duck.

Look up your legislators and call them today. Let them know you’re watching—and that you’ll vote next November!

Yours in the fight,

Katy Shanahan

Advocacy Manager