While many across the country are still digesting the national election results from November, the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has been busy getting ready to work with the new members of the Ohio General Assembly. Not much changed in Ohio during the 2016 election cycle. Most of the media have been billing the national election as a “change” election; in Ohio little has changed as Ohio Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives held onto their supermajorities in both chambers.
The Ohio Senate is made up of thirty-three elected Senators from across Ohio. During the 131st General Assembly (2015-2016), the upper chamber consisted of twenty-three Republicans and ten Democrats. Leading up to the election most folks around the Statehouse were in agreement, there would be three targeted races this fall. Democrats were hoping to win a suburban district outside of Cleveland and Columbus while Republicans were once again trying to win an Eastern Ohio Senate district held by a Democrat incumbent. Things will change slightly during the 132nd General Assembly as the Republicans were successful in defending their two open seats while defeating State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), the only incumbent in the state to lose this election cycle. Senator Gentile served as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was designated “Friend of Agriculture” by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
The House of Representatives in Ohio is made up of ninety-nine elected representatives from around Ohio. During the 131st G.A., the Republicans had sixty-five of those seats while the Democrats were seated in thirty-four house districts. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) both stated that as many as ten seats were potentially in play leading up to the election. When the dust settled on election night, the Republicans picked up an open seat in Southeastern Ohio as well. The make-up of the House heading into the 132ndG.A. will be sixty-six Republicans to thirty-three Democrats.
Policy talk for the upcoming General Assembly is still uncertain due to the upcoming lame duck session, but Kasich Administration officials and some legislators have shared some information. Tax policy is likely to be shifting once again and filling a huge budget deficit is also going to be priority number one for Republican leaders. Low job growth and slower than projected tax revenues are stirring conversations around the Capitol about budget cuts. We do know that Ohio agriculture will continue to be well served by House Ag Committee Chairman and OSA Legislator of the Year, State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Ranking Minority Member, Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson), both are returning. In the Senate Ag Committee Chair, Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) will also be returning.