On Abortion and 'Stand Your Ground' Bills, Ohio Governor Threatens Vetoes
By Darrel Rowland
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will veto both a heartbeat bill and stand-your-ground legislation if the controversial bills reach his desk during the legislature's current lame-duck session.
That could set up a dramatic political contest of "beat the clock" in the waning days of 2018.
During a meeting with reporters Monday afternoon outside the door to his Statehouse office, Kasich said he has not changed his opposition to either proposal. Two years ago he vetoed the Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortions in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. And he has threatened a veto for months on the gun rights measure, which would change Ohioans' obligation to retreat in threatening situations.
The House has passed both items by margins wide enough votes to override a Kasich veto. The Senate has yet to act on either bill, but is expected to soon.
Once a bill passes both chambers, it usually takes several days to officially land on the governor's desk. He then has 10 days to sign it, veto it or become law without his signature.
That means if the Senate dawdles, the process may bleed into the Christmas holiday season -- a time when legislative leaders likely will have trouble mustering many members back to Columbus. And the Heartbeat Bill passed with 60 votes in the House -- the bare minimum to override Kasich's veto. The Stand Your Ground measure can only lose five supporters to remain veto-proof.
Gov.-elect Mike DeWine has indicated backing for both ideas, if not these specific bills.
But Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, is not yet indicating that either the gun bill or the anti-abortion measure is headed for an override showdown with Kasich.
"My anticipation is we'll pass both and see how things unfold after that," Obhof said, stressing that his full Republican caucus has not yet decided to take the votes. "I'd be very surprised if a majority of the members was not in favor of doing both of these."
If lawmakers want to override Kasich's vetoes, the Senate must act shortly after next week. "I think we'd have a long December."
"There is a question of whether do we get to the right number of votes," he said. The Senate needs 20 for an override, which appears more of a certainty with the gun bill than the abortion measure.
"There's also a question of, does Mike DeWine want to work with us on those issues in January," Obhof said. "Are these things better dealt with right now, even though we will have to push back on the governor, or could they just as easily be done on Jan. 20?"
Janet Porter, head of Faith2Action, which has pushed for the Heartbeat Bill for years, said Kasich will lose: "We will override him and he can never run again as a 'pro-lifer.'"
Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values, tweeted, "Kasich should be ashamed of himself. He has the opportunity to save upwards of 10,000 lives per year, but is choosing to veto a law that Ohio clearly wants. Where's the compassion in that?"
Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown tweeted, "Thank you @GovernorKasich."
The stated purpose for the hallway press event was to tout federal statistics on Ohio's economy:
--More Ohioans hold a private sector job than ever before. In October, 4,855,900 Ohioans were employed, including 565,700 jobs added since Kasich took office, breaking a record from 2000.
--Since January 2011, Ohio wages have increased 31.7 percent faster than in the nation as a whole; in the past year, Ohio's wage growth has doubled the national rate.
--From 1991-2010, Ohio's job growth rate ranked 46th in the U.S. Since January 2011, Ohio climbed to 22nd. In the past year it's 15th.
Kasich said Ohio is more prosperous now than at anytime state history.
"Every once in awhile it makes sense to celebrate some good news," he said.
Dispatch reporter Jim Siegel contributed to this story.
(c)2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)