Dispatch: General Assembly ready to tackle...handguns in new session

The Columbus Dispatch has published a detailed look at what can be expected in the early days of the 125th General Assembly.

Click here to read the entire Columbus Dispatch story (subscription site - paid access only). An archived and edited version of the story follows.

Monday, January 6, 2003
Lee Leonard
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

COLUMBUS - The Ohio General Assembly convenes its 125th session today amid the promise of new and energetic leadership but beneath a dark financial cloud that signals perhaps the most tumultuous session in 20 years.

The Senate will be gaveled to order at 1:30 p.m. and the House at 2 p.m. for the ceremonial swearing-in of members, including six new senators and 21 new representatives. Lawmakers will spend most of the month making committee assignments and completing other logistics.

Aside from writing a $48 billion-plus budget, lawmakers will be confronted with legislation to refine and upgrade school funding and accountability, reform taxes and create jobs. Leftovers back for another look will be the right to carry concealed handguns (emphasis added) and Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier high-tech research program.

Sen. Doug White, 60, a 12-year Republican legislator from Manchester, will take over as president in the Senate, where Republicans have a 22-10 majority.

Three-term Rep. Larry Householder, 43, a Perry County Republican, will start his second term as speaker of the House, where the GOP dominates, 62-37.

Both GOP leaders are in their final two years of office due to term limits.

The Democrats have a pair of younger leaders -- Rep. Chris Redfern, 38, of Port Clinton, and Sen. Greg L. DiDonato, 41, of Dennison in Tuscarawas County.

DiDonato has led the Senate Democrats since March. Redfern is replacing Rep. Dean E. DePiero, who stepped aside and plans to run for mayor of Parma.

House Republicans will be going on a retreat Wednesday through Friday at Hueston Woods State Park to examine the reports of eight special committees that met during the summer and put together an agenda for the session.

Senate Republicans will hold their retreat in mid-January, from which the leadership will develop an agenda, White said.

White and Householder will then assemble a legislative agenda and meet with Taft to merge their ideas.

Little will happen until Taft gives his State of the State address before a joint legislative session Jan. 22.

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