COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Abortions in Ohio would be banned at most publicly funded hospitals, clinics and other facilities under a proposal Senate Republicans are considering putting in the state budget, a Senate GOP official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The official, who had direct knowledge of the changes being discussed, requested anonymity because the revisions were still a part of negotiations.
State senators are also weighing a separate amendment to restrict public employees' insurance from covering abortions, the official said. Not included would be those public employees of the state's two chartered counties and chartered municipalities, which account for roughly two-thirds of the cities in the state.
Abortions in the case of rape or incest or saving the life of the mother would be exempted from both proposals, the official said.
The revisions come as the Republican-led Senate Finance Committee is scheduled Tuesday to review additional amendments to the $55.7 billion, two-year spending blueprint and is likely vote on the measure.
Other changes being discussed would require the General Assembly to sign off on any private vendor that would take over the day-to-day management of the Ohio Lottery Commission. Senators are also considering stripping the bill of an idea to open up the state's parks to oil and gas drilling, though separate legislation on that issue is making its way through the Legislature.
Amendments offered by the governor's office would remove Gov. John Kasich as the chairman and director of a new semi-private economic development panel and make other adjustments to the entity.
Kasich, a first-term Republican, would still have the power to pick the nine members of the JobsOhio board.
Two Democratic state lawmakers and the liberal policy group ProgressOhio have filed a lawsuit against JobsOhio, claiming the job-creation entity violates seven sections of the Ohio Constitution. The lawsuit, which is before the Ohio Supreme Court, says it's unconstitutional for Kasich to take a second position of authority for the state while serving as governor.
The changes are not in response to the lawsuit, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Monday.
"We're committed to JobsOhio's independence, transparency and accountability and by working with the General Assembly, we've been able to craft revisions that improve it on all of those fronts," he said in a statement.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, says the revisions validate the group's concerns with JobsOhio.
"While the governor's office and the General Assembly have not addressed all of the constitutional issues we argue in our case, the actions they have taken prove that we were correct in our original findings," Rothenberg said in a statement.
Republicans in the Ohio Senate also plan to introduce a state budget amendment that would cut lawmakers' base salaries by 5 percent.
The state constitution prohibits a legislator's salary from being changed during his or her term, so the cut could not take effect until the start of the next General Assembly. In the meantime, lawmakers could take the pay cut voluntarily.
If passed, the cut would be the first major change in lawmakers' pay since 2008, which marked the end of a phased-in pay raise that began in 2002.
That increase has left the base salary for a senator at just under $60,600, an amount that doesn't include thousands of dollars lawmakers can earn for serving in leadership roles in the chamber and its various committees.
A vote by the full Senate could come as soon as Wednesday. The House passed its version of the budget last month.
Lawmakers in both chambers would have to work out any differences between the two budget plans in what's called a conference committee. The deadline for them to pass the state spending plan is June 30.Tags: