At the Statehouse
Turmoil in Ohio House of Representatives; new Speaker elected
In July, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was arrested and later indicted on charges including bribery and racketeering. Rep. Householder (he remains a member of the Ohio House) had been elevated to the chamber’s highest position for the second time in early 2019. He previously held the position from 2001 until he was subject to term limits in 2004. He returned to the House following the elections of 2016.
On the day Rep. Householder was indicted, members of the House voted to replace him with Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima). Speaker Cupp has been a fixture around Capitol Square for many years. He was a state senator for a number of years prior to facing term limits. He has also been on the court of appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court and served as chief legal counsel to Attorney General Yost when Yost was the state auditor. Speaker Cupp is currently serving in his third term in the House.
Pension forfeiture legislation introduced
On July 30, Reps. Gail Manning (R-N. Ridgeville) and Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) introduced House Bill 741 — a bill that aims to expand the current provisions that may result in forfeiture of a future retirement or disability benefit (excluding accumulated contributions or termination of an existing disability benefit). The expanded offenses that would result in pension forfeiture are extortion, perjury and federal offenses of racketeering activity; theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds; interference with commerce by threats or violence in violation of the “Hobbs Act;” and mail, wire and honest services fraud. It would apply to members of all five statewide public retirement systems, participants in an alternative retirement plan and members of the Cincinnati Retirement System. The offense must be committed within the context of the offender’s public employment and in a position of honor, trust or profit in order to be subject to forfeiture. Additionally, for the termination of an existing disability benefit to apply, the disability for which the member is receiving the benefit must have arisen out of the commission of the offense. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.
Ohio Retirement Study Council cancels August meeting
At the call of Chairman Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), the August meeting of the Ohio Retirement Study Council was canceled. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Council is slated for Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, at 10 a.m.
On Capitol Hill
Next phase of coronavirus legislation stalled in Congress
Indications are that the U.S. House, Senate and administration are interested in passing another round of relief as a result of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy; however, to date they have not been able to settle on what the legislation will contain or on the monies to accompany it. Leaders of both chambers have introduced legislation, and the House passed its HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) bill, but negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on behalf of the administration, have seemingly stalled. STRS Ohio Governmental Relations staff will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly should any legislation emerge that contains provisions affecting public retirement systems.
View a report from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) on reforms to public pension plans in progress around the country. We will include this report monthly as part of the Legislative News.