In a perfect Ohio world, the two months between the November election and the early January would be free of insults to our intelligence by the rogue Ohio Legislature.

We would be free to enjoy the holiday season without having to worry about our public schools being taken over by the governor, our voting privilges made more difficult, and our opportunity to petition our government severely diluted.

But this is the real Ohio where the rapacious Republicans are running roughshod over the rest of us during what is commonly called the lame duck session, the two months between the election and the New Year.

I call it the rogue duck session. It has got to end.

There is a remedy for this political malady.

The Ohio legislature needs to be defanged.

Its elected members need to become part-timers, banned from meeting for all but financial and existential emergencies between election day and the New Year.

Truth is that the legislature is at its most unaccountable during the lame duck. Some of the members are term-limited, some have gotten elected to another office, some lost their re-election bid and some are leaving office. Many are short-timers.

Another thing that happens is that the leaders of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate made promises to powerful lobbyists in return for campaign contributions to get their brethren re-elected and now must pass special interest laws under the cover of darkness, so to speak.

Keep in mind that the public has a short attention span so that even if the legislators do things that are stupid, the public will have forgotten by the time spring rolls around.

Remember all the machinations that the Republicans pulled off to prevent Ohio from having fair and balanced districts last spring. Some people were mad for a while but by election day Nov. 8, most voters had forgotten their unhappiness.

Only a really big issue, like the U.S. Supreme Court tossing out a woman’s right to choose, will be remembered months later. It is true that many women (and men) went to the polls Nov. 8 with blood in their eyes from that decision. They did not show up in enough force to change outcomes in Ohio, but they did in many other states, including neighbors Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Let us get back to the proposition that the Ohio Legislature and its 99 representatives and 33 senators needs to be defanged.

The quickest and slickest way to do it is through a constitutional amendment that changes the operation of the legislature from full-time to part-time.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 14 out of 50 state assemblies are part-time.

Let’s make Ohio the 15th.

We would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

According to Ohio’s Legislative Budget Office, the Ohio House of Representatives is spending about $27 million annually while the Ohio Senate is spending $16 million.

Personal services, in other words paying the legislators and their staffs, amounts to nearly 90% of the spending.

Switching the legislature to part-time and limiting the number of days it can be in session each year to 50, would in round numbers reduce it to one-fourth of its current expense to the taxpayers or to about $10 million a year. That’s a saving of the taxpayers’ money of $33 million annually.

Legislators could keep their days jobs at home and only descend upon Columbus about 10 weeks a year, never meeting between election day and New Year’s.

The Republicans used to be the party of small government and frugal spending. The rank and file outside Columbus might well embrace this plan.

The Democrats will embrace the plan because they are locked out of any meaningful role in legislation because they are outnumbered 67-32 in the House and 26-7 in the Senate.

Call ‘State Superintendent’ DeWine About Schools

Gov. Mike DeWine better be careful what he wishes for.

The Ohio topper is backing the lame duck measure to dilute the role of the Ohio Board of Education and make it subservient to the governor.

In other words, DeWine is about to become the de facto State Superintendent of Schools, who formerly was selected by the Ohio Board of Education.

If passed, here’s what it means:

If your kid flunks his algebra quiz, call the governor to complain.

If you kid does not make the basketball team, call the governor to complain.

If your kid’s teacher is too strict (like expecting your kid to pay attention in class), call the governor to complain.

If the knuckleheads in your community won’t pass operating levies, call the governor to complain.

If your school board members won’t return your calls, call the governor to complain.

Be careful what you wish for, Mikey.


-The ugly prospect of John Kasich becoming the next president of OSU is gaining traction. So you won’t be running for U.S. president this time around, eh, Johnny Nobody.

-More layoffs and weeks off with pay have struck what’s left of the Dispatch. Its parent Gannett is clinging to the hope that Congress will pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to save its bacon. Not going to happen.

-Happy holidays to you and yours. Thanks for reading.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,  

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