In the context of human life, 40 years is a long time. It was on July 6, 1977, that the Democratic legislature, led by Speaker Vern Riffe, overrode three budget-related vetoes initiated by Gov. James Rhodes. On July 6, 2017 – 40 years later to the day – the Ohio House overrode 11 of Gov. John Kasich’s state budget vetoes. As a former history teacher, I grasp and appreciate the historical significance of this rare political event.
Though in this short column I cannot delve into each veto override in detail, I will explain the importance of a few which will likely impact many in our community. First, by a vote of 87-10, the House overrode the governor’s veto related to “franchise fees” on health insuring corporations (HIC) – an attempt to keep local communities like ours from losing additional funding.
First, by a vote of 87-10, the House overrode the governor’s veto related to “franchise fees” on health insuring corporations (HIC) – an attempt to keep local communities like ours from losing additional funding.
Now, if the Senate fails to take up this veto override, Ashtabula County could lose $1.3 million and Geauga County nearly $500,000 in funding—a move that would hurt our local services, amenities and infrastructure that are already reeling from continued cuts by the current administration.
Second, the House unanimously voted to require the Ohio Department of Medicaid to update rates for newborn healthcare services to reflect the financial reality of bringing a happy and healthy baby into the world. I hope that, through this modernization, more of our very youngest Ohioans will be afforded healthcare coverage during those crucial first months of their lives.
Third, the House overrode Gov. Kasich’s veto of a budget provision that would change the formula used to determine payments to nursing homes for Medicaid services. I firmly believe more Ohioans – in this instance some of our oldest citizens – will be afforded better healthcare coverage in conjunction with more equitable compensation to nursing homes.
Fourth, though I spoke against the override, the House voted 67-29 to deny the Kasich administration’s legal authority to appoint members to the Ohio Oil and Gas Leasing Commission. To his credit, Gov. Kasich has so far not made any appointments to the commission, in effect blocking the ability to drill for oil and gas on Ohio’s public land. I am concerned that the House’s action on this matter is a legislative power grab that will lead to oil and gas drilling in our beloved state parks.
Finally, the most publicized and most politicalized veto override – a Medicaid expansion freeze – never materialized. At this point, Medicaid expansion was not directly challenged, but the legislature did open new avenues to restrict coverage for those who need it most. It remains to be seen just what the legislature will do with Medicaid expansion, especially given the unpredictable nature of the federal government.
It is now up to the Ohio Senate to decide whether to concur the House’s 11 veto overrides. With the House and Senate holding the ability to override a veto for as long as the General Assembly is in session – until December 2018 – the continuing saga surrounding access to healthcare shall remain just that – continuing.
Though there were other overrides, I hope that this short summary helps illustrate a good portion of the most critical actions of the House. As always, please contact our office should you have any questions. I remain in your service.