Some of the highest-profile bills failed to advance in the Ohio Legislature this year

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Abortion, education, and LGBTQ issues dominated conversation in the statehouse in 2022. But most of the bills dealing with those topics ended up on the cutting room floor of the Ohio General Assembly.

The bill that tied up the Legislature in the last hours of 2022’s session was a measure to overhaul the state’s education department.

The plan would have stripped power away from the state Board of Education and given it to the governor’s office. Senate Republicans wanted it but House Republicans wavered.

In a bold move to attract right-wing votes, the Senate rolled the bill into a bill that bans transgender girls from girls’ sports.

Opponents, such as Democratic Sen. Cecil Thomas, chided Republicans for smashing two major bills into one 2,000-page plan on the final night of voting.

“And then we come in here and 20 minutes later, we are all now voting on something that we have no clue what’s in it,” Thomas said.

In the end, both the education overhaul bill and the transgender athlete ban failed to gain enough votes to pass.

Another bill that didn’t pass was a measure to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Republicans said it would help teenagers avoid what they called long-term damage to their bodies.

But LGBTQ advocates and parents of transgender kids slammed the bill for discriminating against trans youth. Mikael McLaren has a 17-year-old transgender daughter. McClaren said kids like her are at high risk of mental health issues and that treatment like hormone therapy can help.

“It’s the hand-in-glove treatment of the physical and the mental and emotional treatment that work to take away the things like anxiety and depression,” McLaren said.

With a packed agenda during lame duck, Republicans took that bill off the table but they plan to bring it back next year.

Conservative legislators introduced but failed to pass several measures to extend restrictions on abortion, including Republican Rep. Gary Click’s total ban without exceptions for rape or incest.

“I would love to see us go to that place where we protect that person we respect and that we value life from the moment of conception,” Click said. “So I would love to see there be no abortions with the exceptions of a time when there is a medical emergency — I would certainly want to save the life of the mother.”

Republican leaders couldn’t find a consensus on next steps around abortion, so those measures were shelved for the next session.

A last-minute resolution from Republicans about constitutional amendments also failed to pass the Legislature. Currently, to change the constitution, a simple majority of voters need to approve a ballot measure. The failed proposal would have raised that threshold to 60%.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose backed the resolution.

“This is about trying to make the Ohio constitution less susceptible to special interests, and if something has 60% of support then it will pass,” LaRose said.

But hundreds of voter rights groups and community organizations rallied against the measure and it never came to a vote. Republican leaders say they’ll try for the resolution against next year. They’ll have to pass it by the end of January to put it on the May ballot, as it too would need voter approval.

Many other bills received hearings and made it through part of the committee process before stalling in one way or another. Bills to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, enhance penalties against domestic violence, and loosen statutes of limitations for rape cases all failed to pass.

But supporters of those measures – and many others – plan to reintroduce their plans in the next general assembly.