The members of the Ohio House of Representatives were given their committee assignments last week.
With a Republican supermajority, there was zero chance that a sudden march to equality — in the form of the quixotic Fairness Act? — would plow ahead.
Still, the surprise defeat of a hugely-conservative candidate for Ohio House Speaker by a still-pretty-conservative Ohio House Speaker at least provided a sliver of hope.
Then the committee assignments were released and that sliver of hope became even more slivery.
Here are the committees most likely to hear anti-LGBTQ+ bills in this new legislative session and a bit about those sitting at the helm.
Families and Aging Committee
Chair: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland)
Vice Chair: Rep. Melanie Miller (R-Ashland)
The Families and Aging Committee will almost certainly see the re-introduction of a new version of HB 454, the bill that would ban gender-affirming care and force school stuff to out trans youth to their parents.
There is hardly a representative in the Columbus Statehouse with a more virulently anti-LGBTQ+ record than Chair Jean Schmidt.
She co-sponsored HB 616 to ban the teaching of “divisive and inherently racist concepts.” in K-12 education, has testified repeatedly to ban trans youth from sports and last year called rape an “opportunity” for women.
Schmidt received an “F” on Equality Ohio’s Ohio Lawmaker Equality Scorecard.
As the individual who decides the agenda for the committee, “Mean Jean” will doubtlessly be extraordinarily receptive to the introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
Vice Chair Melanie Miller is more of an unknown, new to the Statehouse, and thus unscored on the Scorecard. That said, the freshman representative ran on a platform of “faith, life, freedom and family.” So there’s that.
Bright spot: Dr. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) will again be serving on the committee, providing expert grounding.
Watch an opposition doctor question Rep Liston's credentials, only to suddenly learn that he is way out of his league. This quack doctor wants to ban gender affirming care for all trans youth and calls medical evidence "garbage." Stop HB 454. pic.twitter.com/q7YzN4dJco
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) May 19, 2022
Primary & Secondary Education Committee
Chair: Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond)
Vice Chair: Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula)
This could be quite the busy committee if Republicans introduce — as expected — updated versions of a curriculum ban, a ban on trans youth playing sports and a parent’s bill of rights.
Chair Bird has earned a “D-“ on the Equality Scorecard and has previously introduced a bill “to prevent state agencies and administrators from having schools teach concepts such as systemic racism, “multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities,” or other ideas that are contrary to the teacher’s sincerely held religious or philosophical convictions.
Vice Chair Fowler Arthur is…well…something else entirely. It’s jaw-dropping that she would even be on this committee, much less serve as Vice Chair.
Sarah Fowler Arthur has never attended school outside her home — public or private — and she made international headlines with her 2022 inflammatory comments that the Holocaust should be taught from multiple perspectives, including from the point of view of Nazis.
Unsurprisingly, she earned an “F” on the Equality Scorecard.
- Stay watchful! No anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has been proposed yet, but we’ll keep you posted if and when it gets filed.
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