Government of Ohio

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The government of the U.S. state of Ohio comprises three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. Its basic structure is set forth in the Constitution and law of Ohio.

Executive branch[edit]

The executive branch of Ohio government comprises six officers:

All are elected statewide for four-year terms, all on a partisan ballot, with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor elected on a single ticket.


The governor appoints the Cabinet of the Governor of Ohio, which includes the:[1]

Notices and proposed rules are published in the Register of Ohio,[2] which are codified in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).[3][4]


The Ohio Department of Education is run by the Ohio State Board of Education, which has 11 elected members and eight appointed members. The state is divided into 11 districts by combining three contiguous Ohio Senate districts. The governor appoints eight members. All serve four year terms. The elected members' terms are staggered so that half of the board is elected in each even-numbered year. Vacancies in the elected membership are filled by appointment by the governor. The chairman of the Ohio House of Representatives Education Committee and his or her counterpart in the Ohio State Senate are ex officio members. The board employs a Superintendent of Public Instruction, who runs the Ohio Department of Education.

The Ohio Lottery is run by the Ohio Lottery Commission. The Ohio Lottery Commission is made up of a Director and nine members appointment by the Governor of Ohio. The Director of the Lottery reports directly to the Governor.

Legislative branch[edit]

The House of Representatives Chamber of the Ohio Statehouse.

The legislative branch, the Ohio General Assembly, is made up of two houses: the senate and the house of representatives. The house of representatives is composed of 99 members elected from single-member districts of equal population. Each of the 33 senate districts is formed by combining three house districts. Senators serve four-year staggered terms and representatives serve two-year terms. The General Assembly, with the approval of the governor, draws the U.S. congressional district lines for Ohio's 16 seats in the United States House of Representatives. The Ohio Apportionment Board draws state legislative district lines in Ohio.

In order to be enacted into law, a bill must be adopted by both houses of the assembly and signed by the governor. If the governor vetoes a bill, the assembly can override the veto with a three-fifths supermajority of both houses. A bill will also become a law if the governor fails to sign or veto it within 10 days of its being presented. Its laws are called "pamphlet laws" or generically "slip laws",[5] and are published in the official Laws of Ohio which are called the "session laws".[6] These in turn have been codified in the Ohio Revised Code.[7]

The Legislative Service Commission is one of several legislative agencies. It serves as a source for legal expertise and staffing. The commission drafts proposed legislation.

Judicial branch[edit]

The judicial branch is headed by the Ohio Supreme Court, which has one chief justice and six associate justices, each elected to staggered six-year terms.

The Ohio Supreme Court Building.

There are several other levels of elected judiciary in the Ohio court system:

  • State court of claims, which has jurisdiction over all civil actions against the State of Ohio in situations in which the state has waived its sovereign immunity.
  • State courts of appeal (12 district appeals courts): These are the intermediate appellate courts.
  • County courts of common pleas: 88 county common pleas courts – These are the principal courts of first instance for civil and criminal matters. In populous areas, there are often several divisions, such as general, juvenile, probate, and domestic relations.
  • Municipal courts and county courts – these court primarily handle minor matters, such as traffic adjudication and other misdemeanor and small claims.

Judges in Ohio are generally elected, except for the Court of Claims, for which judges sit by assignment of the chief justice. When there are temporary vacancies in elected judgeships, those vacancies are also filled by assignment by the chief justice.

Local government[edit]

Columbus City Hall.

There are also several levels of local government in Ohio: counties, municipalities (cities and villages), townships, special districts and school districts.

Ohio is divided into 88 counties.[8] Ohio law defines a structure for county government, although they may adopt charters for home rule.[9][10] Summit County[9] and Cuyahoga County have chosen an alternate form of government, while all of the other counties have elected officers that include: three county commissioners (the county board of commissioners),[11] a sheriff,[12] coroner,[13] auditor,[14] treasurer,[15] clerk of the court of common pleas[16] prosecutor,[17] engineer,[18] and recorder.[19]

There are two kinds of incorporated municipalities, 251 cities and 681 villages.[9][20][21] If a municipality has five thousand or more residents as of the last United States Census it is a city, otherwise it is a village.[9][22] Municipalities have full home rule powers, may adopt a charter, ordinances and resolutions for self-government.[23] Each municipality chooses its own form of government, but most have elected mayors and city councils or city commissions. City governments provide much more extensive services than county governments, such as police forces and professional (as opposed to volunteer) fire departments.

Cleveland City Hall.

The entire area of the state is encompassed by township governments, except for townships that are coterminous with a city or village.[9] When the boundaries of a township are coterminous with the boundaries of a city or village, the township ceases to exist as a separate government.[9] Townships may have limited home rule powers.[24] When the boundaries of a township are coterminous with the boundaries of a city or village, the township ceases to exist as a separate government (called a paper township).[9] Townships are governed by a three member board of township trustees.[9]

There are more than 600 city, local, and exempted village school districts providing K-12 education in Ohio, as well as about four dozen joint vocation school districts which are separate from the K-12 districts. ach city school district, local school district, or exempted village school district is governed by an elected board of education.[9] A school district previously under state supervision (municipal school district) may be governed by a board whose members either are elected or appointed by the mayor of the municipality containing the greatest portion of the district's area.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cabinet". Governor of Ohio Communications Office. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Smith, Lori L.; Barkley, Daniel C.; Cornwall, Daniel C.; Johnson, Eric W.; Malcomb, J. Louise (2003). Tapping State Government Information Sources. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 306. ISBN 1-57356-387-0. LCCN 2002044846. 
  3. ^ Putnam, Melanie K.; Schaefgen, Susan M. (1997). Ohio Legal Research Guide. Wm. S. Hein Publishing. p. 198. ISBN 1-57588-087-3. LCCN 96-16186 Check |lccn= value (help). 
  4. ^ "Ohio Legal Research". Supreme Court of Ohio. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, p. 31.
  6. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp. 31-32.
  7. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp. 65-66.
  8. ^ Individual State Descriptions: 2007, 2007 Census of Governments, United States Census Bureau, November 2012, p. 235 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Census 2007, p. 235.
  10. ^ Putnam, Melanie K.; Schaefgen, Susan M. (1997). Ohio Legal Research Guide. Wm. S. Hein Publishing. pp. 106–114. ISBN 1-57588-087-3. LCCN 96-16186 Check |lccn= value (help). 
  11. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 305.01 et seq.
  12. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 311.01
  13. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 313.01
  14. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 319.01
  15. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 321.01
  16. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 2303.01
  17. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 309.01
  18. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 315.01
  19. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 317.01
  20. ^ Ohio Secretary of State. The Ohio Municipal, Township and School Board Roster. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Ohio Revised Code Section 703.01(A)". Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  23. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp. 106-114.
  24. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp. 110-111.

External links[edit]