Ohio Legislators Pass a Mixed Bag of Laws Regarding Sexual Offenses

by Barb Wright, Legal & Legislative Liaison, OHRSOL

The 134th General Assembly, being the period between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022, was marked by lack of consensus and dissidence over COVID, voter election laws, and gun violence. Much of the session was characterized by inactivity. However, there were several developments of significance to OHRSOL members.

House Bill 265, effective June 13, 2022, added yet another prohibition to where a person convicted of a sexual offense can live. House Bill 265 added new restrictions to R.C. 2950.34, which prohibit living within 1,000 feet of a children’s crisis care facility or residential infant care premises. Fortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that these types of restrictions can only be applied to persons whose offense(s) occurred on or after June 13, 2022. [See Hyle v. Porter, 117 Ohio St.3d 165 and its progeny.] Further, only two such facilities currently exist in Ohio. [See LSC Analysis.]

The end of the session was marked by significant activity, as new members were elected to positions starting the first of the year. The period from November 15th through December 14th , referred to as “lame duck,” saw as many as 30 bills sent to the Governor for signature, including two bills of significance to OHRSOL members. In total, the House of Representatives introduced 755 bills, approximately 60 of which were signed by the Governor; the Ohio Senate introduced 369 bills, approximately 62 of which were signed by the Governor.

More importantly, dozens of bills which did not pass as “stand-alone bills” were added as amendments to bills which ultimately passed third consideration during lame duck, and were sent to the Governor for signature. The following bills have implications for OHRSOL members:

  • Senate Bill 288 alone, known simply as “Revise Criminal Law,” passed on December 14th, 2022 with 26 amendments. This is what is often referred to as a “Christmas tree bill,” because it includes the provisions of bills which did not pass both chambers. SB 288 is largely favorable to persons with a conviction for a sexual offense, especially persons convicted as sexually oriented offenders under Megan’s law, or Tier I or Tier II offenders whose duty to register has been terminated. SB 288 allows these persons to apply for record sealing and expungement (see Record Sealing, Residency Restrictions, and Restrictions on Volunteering article).

SB 288 contains provisions regarding penalties for gross sexual imposition, the procedure for certificates of qualification for employment, and changes to the procedure for youthful offender termination of the duty to register under R.C. 2950.151.

In addition, SB 288 includes changes to judicial release, earned credits, and bail. No attempt has been made to analyze these provisions, as they do not apply directly to our Vision, Mission and Goals, which is to promote cost-effective, evidence-based laws and policies regarding sexual offense registration and related consequences.

Want to Keep Up on Legislation?

Here are a few helpful hints:

  1. Get to know the members of the 135th General Assembly, especially your District Senator and Representative. You never know when you might be able to help influence legislation as a constituent.
  2. Learn who makes the decisions in each chamber (see House Leadership, Senate Leadership, and Rules and Reference Committee for each chamber*).
  3. Keep up on legislation as it is introduced by setting up an account with My Ohio Legislature or by contacting the Chairpersons of the House Criminal Justice
    Committee (not yet appointed for 135th General Assembly) and the Senate Judiciary. You can also check the status of any bill.
  4. Learn the Legislative Process and other helpful information under Publications. Watch a hearing, Senate session, or House session at OhioChannel.org.

*House Leadership, Rules and Reference, and House committees have not been chosen yet.