COLUMBUS – State laws involving the Ohio Court of Claims, which handles litigation filed against the state of Ohio, would be streamlined, under a bill passed Wednesday in the Ohio House of Representatives.

The measure, House Bill 261, sponsored by state Reps. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, and Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

“This legislation will update existing state law to ensure that the Court of Claims is operating efficiently and in the manner best suited to the unique nature of this legal venue,” said Stinziano, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The idea for this bill was brought forward by representatives of the Court of Claims with the support of the Ohio Supreme Court and we were pleased to be able to bring this measure on the court’s behalf,” Stinziano said.

 Among the changes the bill makes:

  • Abolishes the office of the commissioner of the Court of Claims, which would save the court money because the appeals from victims of crime decisions made by the Attorney General and now heard by commissioners can be handled by the court’s magistrates.
  • On a similar note, the proposed elimination of the office of the commissioner of the Court of Claims would also send appeals from the decision of the Attorney General on applications for awards of reparations for economic loss arising from criminally injurious conduct to the Court instead of to a commissioner.
  • Authorizes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio to appoint magistrates rather than referees in the Court of Claims.

The measure is expected to be assigned to a standing Senate committee for further study.