Lawmakers started their House and Senate session nearly two and a half hours late on Thursday and didn’t finish until the early morning hours, taking several recesses throughout the evening.
The very last thing the House of Representatives voted on well after 1 a.m. Friday morning was to concur to changes made by the Senate to the Heartbeat Abortion Bill.
The final vote, in the wee small hours of the morning, was only 53-32. Thirteen members of the House did not vote as they had left for the evening.
Of those, at least six are expected to be a yes vote on a veto override if Governor John Kasich does veto the bill as he promised he would.
Another noticeable shift was State Representative Holmes changing his “yes” vote to the original bill to a “no” vote on the amended version that came back to the House.
Holmes was one of two lawmakers who did not vote on the bill with everyone else. He cast his initial “yes” vote later as did State Representative Marilyn Slaby.
Slaby was also not present for the concurrence vote.
For the initial vote of the bill out of the House, Slaby had already left the Statehouse when the bill was voted on and had to be driven back so she could cast her vote on the floor when the bill did not reach 60 votes without her. The drive took several hours.
With State Representative Brian Hill no longer a member of the House, he was sworn in as a State Senator in the chamber on the other side of the building earlier in the evening. The House now has a vacant seat to fill.
There will be a push by some to fill that seat with a Republican who would vote to override a Kasich veto of the bill.
There has been little indication at this time to show how likely that is to happen.
Instead, the Speaker of the House’s Press Secretary Brad Miller released a statement today regarding the potential for bringing members in for veto override votes.
“With the legislative calendar coming to a close, the Speaker has been assessing all options for holding future voting sessions. The House is prepared to return when needed to ensure the will of the legislature is reaffirmed.”
Meanwhile, over in the Senate a date was set as a session day for Dec. 27, 2018.
While not beholden to this date, it does signal that veto overrides are something lawmakers are preparing to deal with.
The holiday season is not making that easy, however.
Multiple sources have implored lawmakers to cut vacations short and return to the Statehouse to participate in veto overrides, especially on the Heartbeat Bill.
The abortion ban bill passed the House with the minimum 60 votes to signal enough support to threaten an override. In the Senate, it only passed with 18 votes.
However, in the Senate on the day of the vote, State Senator and Secretary of State-Elect Frank LaRose did not cast a vote on the bill as he had to leave the session early to travel out of state for Secretary of State training.
Several Pro-Life conservatives have claimed that LaRose has committed to voting to override a Kasich veto of the Heartbeat Bill, and he was quoted in a blog written with obvious bias in favor of the Pro-life perspective.
One of those individuals was the author of the Heartbeat Bill Janet Porter, but LaRose denies making any promises to Porter.
In a conversation with J.C. Church, a faith leader and steadfast supporter of the bill, LaRose’s commitment was alleged again.
When asked for proof of the commitment, Church preferred to give LaRose a chance to set the record straight.
Even with that commitment, LaRose would only be the 19th vote when the Senate needs 20 to override.
That brings us to recently seated State Senator Brian Hill. Again, Hill was a yes vote for the bill in the House and is expected to be vote yes on a veto override as well.
All of that is moot, however, if the House can’t get it overridden first because the override has to be successful in the Chamber where the bill originated before the opposite Chamber can take it up.
What we all are waiting to see is if there are lawmakers who will not be able to return to the Statehouse on the day the override votes take place.
Missing a single “yes” vote could sink the whole endeavor.
The margins are tight, several Republicans voted against the bill again on concurrence including State Representative Rick Carfagna who said he would vote to override a veto if the bill contained exceptions for rape and incest.
That specific amendment to the bill was offered in the Senate and set aside by the Republican Caucus. Republicans also tabled an amendment that would have given rape victims access to emergency contraception to prevent them from unwanted pregnancies as a result of becoming impregnated by their attacker.
Every single amendment offered on the bill by a Democrat was turned away.
The Heartbeat Bill is not the only bill in the crosshairs for a potential veto.
A pay raise bill was one of the first bills delivered to the Governor because it would go into effect immediately if it is enacted.
The bill was supposed to extend the benefits of first responders killed in the line of duty to their families and it had wide bi-partisan support. But some lawmakers say a poison pill was slipped in to the bill at the last second.
With about 24 hours before the final chance to get the bill passed with enough time to override a veto on it, lawmakers added a pay raise for themselves to the bill.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were horrified and disgusted, openly saying so in their floor speeches regarding the bill.
Governor John Kasich has not said openly that he plans to veto the bill, but he has intimated that is likely.
Because the pay raises are not set up to be uses of taxpayer dollars, also known as appropriations, Kasich has no access to a line-item veto, something he does have access to for another bill that specifically sets aside amounts of money for special projects.
Had lawmakers attached this pay raise to the bill that is giving $15 million to build a stadium for the Columbus Crew, Kasich could have shut it down.
Instead, they attached it to another bill that does not carry that option and he is being forced to either veto it completely and with it something a large number of lawmakers feel is something the families of first responders deserve, or let them have the pay raise.
Ironically, one of the main sponsors of the bill is Senator LaRose.
LaRose was furious and demanded his name be removed from the bill as a result of what the House did.
Senator LaRose was at his training conference when all of this went down and was unable to cast a vote on the bill Thursday when it came back to the Senate.
We’ll have to wait and see where he will be on a veto override if it were to come down from the governor on this bill or on the Heartbeat Bill.