AP NEWS

The Latest: Speaker Ryan Smith wins questioned House GOP nod

December 27, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on a rare post-Christmas voting session called to override vetoes by Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

Ohio House Republicans have picked Speaker Ryan Smith to continue leading the chamber next session, in a vote questioned by backers of his main rival.

Smith won 34 votes in a closed-door caucus meeting Thursday. He’ll need 50 to prevail in a formal vote to be taken Jan. 7, the first day of the new two-year legislative session. Some votes could come from Democrats.

Smith prevailed over rival candidate Larry Householder, a Perry County Republican and former House speaker.

Some Householder supporters opposed Thursday’s vote on a technicality and boycotted it.

The speakership contest has prompted months of tension in the House. The Smith and Householder camps have jockeyed for control since Republican Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned in April amid an FBI probe.

Smith is from Bidwell, in southeastern Ohio.

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12:50 p.m.

Republican lawmakers hoping to give Ohio one of the most far-reaching abortion restrictions in the nation have fallen one vote short of overriding the governor’s veto and making it law.

The bill would have banned abortions once the first fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant.

Term-limited GOP Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) had said in his veto message that the so-called heartbeat bill is unconstitutional. He said enacting it would prompt a costly and unsuccessful court battle.

The House voted Thursday to override the veto during rare post-Christmas voting sessions. The following Senate vote was 19-13, short of the 20 votes needed to override the veto.

It was Kasich’s second veto of similar legislation since 2016.

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12:20 p.m.

A bill broadening gun-owner rights has become law in Ohio, after the Republican-led state Legislature overrode GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto.

The Senate voted 21-11 on Thursday to reject Kasich’s decision to strike down the bill . That followed a House override earlier in the day.

The legislation expands gun access for off-duty police officers and allows pre-emption of local gun restrictions, among other things.

Senators had hoped to address Kasich’s objections by stripping its so-called stand-your-ground language, but he vetoed the legislation anyway.

Kasich opposed language shifting the burden of proof in self-defense cases from defendants to prosecutors. He also criticized lawmakers for refusing to debate a “red flag” law allowing gun rights to be temporarily stripped from people who show warning signs of violence.

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11:15 a.m.

The Republican-led Ohio House has overridden GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto of legislation imposing one of the most far-reaching abortion restrictions in the nation.

The House eked out its 60-28 override Thursday over strong objections by Democrats, who argued Ohio is leading a charge against women and the bill is unconstitutional.

The vote sent the so-called heartbeat bill to the waiting Senate.

The measure bans abortion after the first fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant.

The term-limited governor, who leaves office next month, said in a veto message that the bill is unconstitutional and he wanted to avoid a costly and unsuccessful court battle. It was his second veto of similar legislation since 2016.

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11 a.m.

The Republican-led Ohio House has voted to override GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto of a bill broadening gun-owner rights.

House members voted 67-22 Thursday to reject Kasich’s decision to strike down the legislation . It would expand gun access for off-duty police officers and at subsidized housing complexes and allow pre-emption of local gun restrictions, among other things.

The measure headed immediately to the Senate, which had hoped to appease Kasich by previously stripping the measure’s so-called stand-your-ground language.

But he vetoed the legislation anyway, citing a provision that shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases from defendants to prosecutors. Kasich also scolded lawmakers for refusing to even debate a “red flag” law allowing gun rights to be temporarily stripped from people who show warning signs of violence.

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10:50 a.m.

A disputed bill that increases death benefits and insurance coverage for slain public safety officers’ families while also providing pay raises to Ohio elected officials has become law over the governor’s objections.

The Republican-led Ohio House overrode GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto 70-16 on Thursday. Its action followed a successful veto override in the Senate earlier in the day.

In his veto message Friday, Kasich called the bill’s intent to help police and firefighter families “praiseworthy.” But he said he couldn’t support “the last-minute rush to include a controversial pay raise” without adequate public debate.

Kasich had urged lawmakers to send the original bill to his successor, Republican Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, when the new legislative session begins in January.

One fellow Republican lawmaker called the veto hypocritical and “Grinch-like.”

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10:45 a.m.

The father of a former state representative has been appointed to temporarily fill his son’s seat, addressing a key vacancy in the Ohio House ahead of lawmakers’ attempts to override vetoes by the governor.

Ellis Hill of Zanesville, the father of former state Rep. Brian Hill, was seated during a rare post-Christmas voting session on Thursday.

The younger Hill’s appointment to the state Senate had left a potentially crucial vacancy in the House as leading Republicans attempt to reverse several vetoes delivered to them by GOP Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik).

Brian Hill filled a Senate vacancy created by the election of Republican Troy Balderson to Congress.

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10:30 a.m.

The Republican-led Ohio Senate has overridden GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto of legislation containing pay increases for certain Ohio elected officials.

The Senate saved the bill by a vote of 25-6 Thursday, sending it to the House. The measure also increases death benefits and insurance coverage for slain public safety officers’ families.

In a veto message Friday, Kasich called the bill’s initial intent “praiseworthy.” But he said he couldn’t support “the last-minute rush to include a controversial pay raise” without adequate public debate.

Kasich had urged lawmakers to send the original bill to his successor, Republican Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, when the new legislative session begins in January. But Kasich said legislators should have given raises a more thorough debate.

One Republican lawmaker called the veto hypocritical and “Grinch-like.”

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9:52 a.m.

A spokesman for the Republican-led Ohio House says lawmakers gathering for a rare post-Christmas voting session won’t attempt to override GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) veto that protected Medicaid expansion.

Brad Miller said Thursday that House members don’t plan to call an override vote on the budget provision Kasich vetoed in 2017 that called for freezing new enrollment in the program and preventing those who drop off from re-enrolling.

Reversals of several other Kasich vetoes may yet be tried as the House and Senate convene in Columbus, including on bills involving guns, abortion and pay raises for elected officials.

A caucus meeting also has been set for Thursday afternoon where leaders hope for a resolution to the long-brewing fight for House speaker.

Miller says he expects strong attendance Thursday.

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12:04 a.m.

State lawmakers in Ohio are reconvening for rare post-Christmas floor sessions where some of Gov. John Kasich’s (KAY’-siks) vetoes could be overridden. A long-brewing speakership fight also could finally be resolved.

The action begins on Thursday, when both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate are scheduled to meet. Whether a series of Kasich vetoes are overridden depends on a host of factors.

Among them is how effective the Kasich administration and other advocates have been in fighting to preserve the state’s Medicaid expansion. Also up for possible veto override votes is legislation on a heartbeat abortion restriction and expanded gun-owner rights.

One key issue will be whether all lawmakers opt to return from what was supposed to be a holiday break to participate in the potential votes.