For the Ohio House, marijuana is on the backburner as a HB 68 veto override vote takes center stage

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Members of the Ohio House will officially vote Wednesday on whether to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68—the bill blocking trans youth from access to gender-affirming care and from participating in girls’ athletics.

It comes after weeks of backlash online, against DeWine’s veto, from Republicans across the state and country. DeWine signed an executive order banning surgeries for trans minors and proposed other related administrative rules Friday morning, but those did little to stave lawmakers off of an override.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) told reporters Tuesday the veto override is poised to pass. “As long as we don’t have a snowstorm,” Stephens said.

Veto overrides need three-fifths votes in both chambers, but the Ohio Senate won’t meet Wednesday.

“The senate can do what the senate wants to do,” he said. “The house is going to meet tomorrow, and we will take our action.”

A spokesperson for the Senate GOP said last week it has the votes—regardless of when they are counted. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.

Newly elected House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) addressees the Ohio House from a podium.
Newly elected House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) addressees the Ohio House. [Ohio Government Television]

Two months later, marijuana legislation is in limbo

Last week, DeWine again urged the Ohio House to act on marijuana changes.

“I would just say that since the house is coming back next week, this might be a good time to take on and deal again with something that they did not do, which is to to deal with the marijuana issue,” DeWine said.

In December, about six hours before Issue 2 became law as is, a bill to change adult-use cannabis laws cleared the Ohio Senate 28-2. Before the Senate voted, Gov. Mike DeWine called an early evening press conference to urge the house to pass those changes.

But the house had no plans to concur with the senate’s proposal, and any action is still on the backburner, according to legislative leaders in the house.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said Tuesday negotiations stalled over the holidays. “I haven’t seen anything yet, beyond what’s already been introduced,” Russo said.

Russo said something could be brought to the house floor in February.