Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ohio General Assembly
The Ohio General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Ohio. It is a bicameral legislature. The lower house, the Ohio House of Representatives, has 99 members; the upper house, the Ohio State Senate, has 33.
The second constitution of Ohio, effective in 1851, took away the power of the General Assembly to choose the state's executive's officers, granting that right to the voters. A complicated formula apportioned legislators to Ohio counties and the number of seats in the legislative houses varied from year-to-year. The Ohio Politics Almanac by Michael F. Curtin (Kent State University Press) described apportionment thusly:
The new  constitution ... contained a complicated formula for apportionment, the so-called "major fraction rule." Under it, the state's population was divided by 100, with the resulting quotient being the ratio of representation in the House of Representatives. Any county with a population equal to at least half the ratio was entitled to one representative; a county with a population of less than half the ratio was grouped with an adjacent county for districting; a county containing a population of at least one and three-fourths the ratio was entitled to two representatives; a county with a population equal to three times the ratio was entitled to three representatives. To determine Senate districts, a similar procedure was followed; the starting point, however was figured by dividing the state's population by 35. The ratios for the House and Senate and the resulting apportionment was determined by a board consisting of the governor, auditor, and secretary of state.
In 1903, the apportionment system was modified by the Hanna amendment, which also gave the governor veto power over the assembly's acts, which could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the assembly's houses. The last state constitutional convention, held in 1912, gave the governor a line-item veto, but reduced the supermajority required for overriding the veto to three-fifths. In 1956, a referendum increased the terms of state senators from two to four years.
The Hanna amendment (which guaranteed each county at least one representative and all members elected at large) guaranteed that rural areas of Ohio would dominate the legislature by giving them disproportionate representation. Several decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s, however, mandated apportionment proportional to population. Reapportionment was ordered in 1964. Starting with the 1966 election, the number of seats in the two chambers were fixed at their present 33 and 99.
In 1992, a referendum set term limits of eight consecutive years -- four consecutive terms in the house and two consecutive terms in the senate. Terms are considered consecutive if they are separated by less than four years.
Republican activists, led by Fred A. Lennon , began pursuing term limits in the 1980s. The Democratic party -- led by Speaker Vern Riffe -- had held a majority in the Ohio House since 1973, and Republicans believed that the only way to break Riffe's hold on the speakership.
The General Assembly meets in the state capital of Columbus, Ohio.
Famous Ohio legislators have included:
- Vern Riffe
- William B. Saxbe
- C. William O'Neill
- William Burnham Woods
- Seabury Ford
- William Medill
- Duncan McArthur
- Thomas Kirker
- Edward Tiffin
- Alexander Campbell (American politician)
- Michael Baldwin
- Philemon Beecher
- Matthias Corwin
- Nelson H. VanVorhes
- Jackson E. Betts
- Roger Cloud
- Nathaniel Massie
- Robert Lucas
- Allen Trimble
- Charles F. Horn
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