Ohio's government, just like the federal government, has
three branches: legislative, judicial, and executive.
Ohio's government is organized as follows:
Legislative: Ohio's legislative
branch, collectively known as the Ohio General Assembly,
consists of the Ohio House of Representatives and the
Ohio Senate. It is the legislature's responsibility
to enact laws for the citizens, as elected officials.
Ohio House of Representatives: Comprised of 99
members, each representative represents about 110,000
citizens. Representatives are elected for two-year terms
and can only serve four, consecutive two-year terms.
To find out who your Representative is, click here.
Ohio Senate: The Senate is comprised
of 33 members who represent 330,000 Ohio citizens apiece.
They are elected to four-year terms and are limited
to serving two, consecutive four-year terms. To find
out who your Senator is, click here.
How a Bill Becomes a Law: There are two types
of bills that are addressed by the legislature: bills
and resolutions. Bills seek to enact new laws or to
change an existing one. Bills may start in either house,
but they must be considered by both chambers at three
different times. Both chambers may alter, amend, or
reject a bill. There are six basic steps in this process:
- Introduction - Ideas for bills do not come
from the individual legislators alone. They can come
from citizens, interest groups, businesses, and state
angencies. However, a bill must be sponsored by at
least one legislator and must be reviewed by the Legislative
Service Commission to ensure the proper format is
- Referral - Once a bill is introduced it is
then reviewed and assigned to a standing committee
for debate, testimony, and committee action.
- Committee Hearings - For the most part, the
fate of a bill is determined in committee. The committee
can decide to take action on a bill, refer the more
complex issues to a subcommittee, or take not action,
thus killing the bill. If the committee decides to
take action, hearings are held where advocates and
opponents are allowed to voice their concerns about
the bill. The committee will then decide if it wants
to amend, rewrite, or combine the bill with another
one. Finally, the committee decides if it wants to
report the bill favorably to the entire chamber or
to postpone the bill indefinitely which will kill
- Rules Committees - Bills that have been reported
out favorably are then placed on the calendar to be
debated and voted on by the entire chamber. However,
the rules committees may decide prevent further action
on the bill by never placing the bill on the calendar.
- Full Chamber Consideration - Consideration
begins by a sponsor discussing the bill's purpose
and content before the entire chamber. The bill is
then debated on and may be amended based on the rules
of either the House or the Senate. When the bill is
voted on, it must receive a simple majority from each
house: 50 in the House and 17 in the Senate. Once
the bill is passed before one chamber (i.e. the House),
it is then sent to the other chamber (i.e. the Senate).
The bill can still be changed by the other (Senate)
chamber, but before it moves on to the next step,
it must be approved by both chambers in the same form.
- Governor's Approval - Once the bill is approved
by both chambers, the Governor has ten days to act
on the bill. If he approves it, the bill becomes law
in 90 days, unless stated otherwise in the bill or
it is an emergency or appropriations bill, those are
enacted immediately. The Governor also has the option
to veto the bill and the bill is sent back to the
legislature with the Governor's written objections.
The legislator may override the Governor's veto through
a three-fifths majority in both houses.
For a more in-depth look at how a bill becomes a law,
including a flow chart, go here.
Ohio Budget Process - The State budget for Ohio
operates on a two-year cycle. Each fiscal year begins
on July 1st and ends on June 30th of the following year.
The legislature works on the budget primarily in the
first six months of the regular session of the General
The majority of the State's income (excluding money
from the Federal government) comes from the personal
income tax. The second largest portion comes from the
sales tax and such things as the corporate franchise
tax, public utilities excise tax, lottery profits, non-tax
income, and other taxes make up the rest.
In terms of spending, the highest portion of State money
goes to K-12 education. Human services comes in at second
and higher education is third. General government, corrections,
and local government make up the rest of the State appropriations.
For more information on this process, take a look at
chapter eight in A
Guidebook for Ohio Legislators.
Judicial: The role of the judicial
branch is to settle disputes between people, between
a person and the government, and between agencies of
the government. Courts do this by interpreting the laws
made by the Constitution and legislature. The Constitution
of Ohio designates three courts: Ohio Supreme Court,
Court of Appeals, and Court of Common Pleas. In addition,
the legislature has created a system of municipal courts,
county courts, mayor's courts, and Ohio Court of Claims.
For more information, please go to Ohio
Judicial Branch home page
Executive: The executive branch
consists of six elected officials and is led by the
Governor. As a whole, the executive branch ensures the
laws passed by the legislature are executed. Each official
is elected to a four-year term and cannot serve more
than two consecutive terms. The executive branch also
consists of agencies
that administer policies in areas such as the environment,
transportation, and human services. For more information
on the executive branch, click here.
124th Ohio General Assembly Online
Know Your Ohio Government. Produced by the League
of Women Voters of Ohio