I have been updating you on the Ohio Pulse Ox bill, Senate Bill 4. This week, I have our latest update. The bill will have a hearing in the House Health Committee on Wednesday, April 17th. For the first hearing, the focus starts with sponsor testimony.
I often hear from people that the bill process is confusing, which is very true. There are many steps in the process and a bill must pass many hurdles before final passage. It makes for many smaller victories to celebrate, but also reminds us that we still must keep the issue front and center for legislators. Your email messages, phone calls and visits help us do just that.
The Path to Passage for Pulse Ox Screenings
There are many good ideas presented to legislators every year, and sometimes, it may seem like every day. A legislator must have enough interest or passion for an issue to have an idea drafted into bill language. In Ohio, the Legislative Service Commission is responsible for this process. Once the idea is in bill form, assuming the legislator will co-sponsor (or really co-champion) the bill, a co-sponsor letter will go out. In the case of Pulse Oximetry Screenings, there were two co-champions in the Senate - Senators Manning and Oelslager with a total of 15 co-sponsors when the bill was introduced.
A bill with a lot of bipartisan co-sponsors usually has a better chance of success. This is why we often issue alerts around co-sponsor requests. It is the first chance to have a victory on the path to bill passage.
Once a bill is formally introduced, there are a couple of quick steps that can also impact the likelihood of success. The bill will go before a special committee that refers it to another committee. Being referred to the right committee makes a difference in how the issue is framed. It also can be impacted by the support of the committee chair, who has the discretion on what bill to "hear" in the committee.
Assuming a bill makes it to committee and is called for a hearing, there are usually at least 2-3 hearings. These are normally on separate days. The first hearing allows the legislative champion (or co-champions) to speak to the committee about the bill and why they think the bill is important and should be addressed.
In the following committee hearings, there will be a chance for people to give proponent (supportive,) opponent (against) and interested party testimony. Again, referring to the Pulse Oximetry bill in the Senate, there were three people who gave testimony in support of the bill. Several groups also submitted letters of support. There was no opponent testimony.
At this point, the bill could be called for a vote in committee. Having favorable support in committee is a great victory and yet another step. Assuming the committee gives support, the bill could be called for a floor vote and yet another opportunity for the bill to not move forward. Remember, at this point, the bill has only been thoroughly reviewed by a small number of the chamber. Now, everyone in that chamber has an opportunity to speak in favor or opposition.
For SB 4, we made it through this process with flying colors! The final vote in the Senate was 33-0. And, so the bill moved to the House.
People often ask if a bill must start in the Senate or the House. The answer is no. It can start on either side, but must go through the same process in both chambers before going to the Governor, who has the ability to veto the legislation.
Our Pulse Oximetry Screening Bill is about to start the above process in the House. Everyone is hoping for smooth passage, but your support is still needed. The House has more members and that's more people to educate on the importance of the issue. I'll post an update after Wednesday's hearing, but your help is needed. If you haven't responded to the alert yet, I urge you to do so. I also urge you to forward the alert to others. House members need to know about the issue and that constituents care. You can help us reach all members by encouraging others to send a message.