Veto of Great Lakes bill may face override vote

Ohio House won't revisit photo ID issue


COLUMBUS — House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) said Thursday that an override of Gov. John Kasich’s veto of a business-backed bill dealing with water withdrawals from Lake Erie remains a possibility.

But he has no intention of trying again to get a bill requiring Ohio voters to show photo identification to the governor’s desk.

Mr. Kasich surprised his fellow Republicans and his business base of support when he used the first veto of his administration to kill a bill that would have increased the amount of water that could be drawn from the Lake Erie watershed without regulation.

Mr. Batchelder said he plans to write a letter to Mr. Kasich asking for direction in another attempt to write between the lines of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact signed by eight states and Congress and agreed to by two Canadian provinces.

In the meantime, the threat of a possible veto override vote remains.

“Nothing’s on the table or off the table as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Batchelder said. “My concern is that we want to make sure that we’re going to move forward to protect the lake, and at this point I’m not sure what that means.”

In the 99-member House, it would take at least 60 votes to make the bill law over the governor’s objections. That’s how many representatives voted for the bill—all 59 Republicans and one Democrat. There’s still 17 months of this legislative session in which such a vote could take place.

In the Senate, 28 members supported the bill, well over the 20 needed for an override.

“I have no idea where everybody is,” Mr. Batchelder said. “I haven’t asked them. I have not talked to [Democratic leader Armond] Budish about it. It came at a time when everybody was leaving town, frankly. It inspired a certain amount of acrimonious discussion amongst our members and the governor’s office.”

The bill, pushed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and others, contained the highest water-withdrawal thresholds of any Great Lakes state before a power plant, factory, municipal water company, or other user would have to approach the state for a permit. It would have allowed up to 5 million gallons a day to be withdrawn directly from the lake, 2 million if taken elsewhere within the watershed, or 300,000 for streams designated as high quality.

Mr. Kasich vetoed the bill after hearing complaints from other states, two former Ohio Republican governors, members of Congress, and environmental groups.

“The Ohio House can certainly repeat its mistake and flirt with a veto from which there is no override, a lawsuit from Michigan, New York, and others,’’ said Jack Shaner, of the Ohio Environmental Council. “We hope the flirtation ends.”

Meanwhile, the speaker said there are no plans to resurrect a bill that would require a photo ID to vote in Ohio. The House had approved the measure, but the Senate left town for the summer without dealing with it.

It faced opposition from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

“There’s a limit to how many times you want to run your head into a wall, Mr. Batchelder said.