Ohio Government Structure
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Ohio Deferred Compensation
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Ohio’s state government contains three branches elected by Ohio voters. The legislative branch makes laws, the executive branch administers laws and the judicial branch interprets and enforces laws.
The legislative branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate, collectively called the General Assembly.
The executive branch includes the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, treasurer of state, State Board of Education, the governor’s Cabinet, and boards and commissions whose members are appointed by the governor.
Ohio’s judicial branch of government is comprised of the Supreme Court of Ohio and lower courts that all perform judicial functions for the people of Ohio.
The following are brief descriptions of the elected offices in Ohio government. These descriptions are not intended to be complete lists of responsibilities, but to give a broad overview of their duties.
The General Assembly
Elected to a two/four-year term
Term limit: House members - four consecutive two-year terms | Senate - two consecutive four-year terms
Ohio’s House of Representatives has 99 members; the Senate has 33 (three House Districts within each Senate District). The General Assembly debates bills proposed for adoption as laws. Most bills require a majority vote in both the Senate and the House to pass. If a bill passes one chamber and is amended by the second chamber, the first chamber must concur with the changes. If there is no concurrence, the bill goes to a conference committee of members selected from both chambers. When both chambers approve a bill, it is then presented to the governor to be signed into law, vetoed or allowed to become law after 10 days without the governor’s signature. The Legislature can override a governor’s veto with a three-fifths vote of both chambers. When laws are finally adopted, they become part of Ohio Revised Code, and are known as “statutes.”
For more information on Ohio's Legislative Districts, visit Ohio District Maps.
Elected to a four-year term
Term limit: two consecutive four-year terms
Current Governor: John R. Kasich
The governor is the chief executive officer of state government. The governor is responsible for proposing the state budget, appointing state department directors and many members of boards and commissions (except for the State Board of Education, whose members are elected), and signing into law or vetoing bills passed by the Ohio General Assembly.
For a list of all agencies, boards and commissions including contact information:
Elected to a four-year term as a running mate to the governor
Term limit: two consecutive four-year terms
Current Lieutenant Governor: Mary Taylor
The lieutenant governor also is a member of the governor’s Cabinet and presides in the absence of the governor. The governor may appoint the lieutenant governor to be the director of one of the departments.
Term limit: two consecutive four-year terms
Current Attorney General: Mike DeWine
The attorney general is the lawyer for the state and all its departments. The attorney general has enforcement authority as empowered by the General Assembly. The attorney general also provides support to local law enforcement agencies.
Auditor of State
Current Auditor of State: Dave Yost
The auditor of state is the constitutional officer responsible for auditing all public offices in Ohio, including cities and villages, schools and universities, counties and townships, as well as the many departments, agencies and commissions of state government. The auditor’s office also has the responsibility of making monthly distributions of state revenues to these entities.
Secretary of State
Current Secretary of State: Jon Husted
The secretary of state is the chief election officer for the state, appointing members of the 88 county boards of elections and ensuring the integrity of the Ohio voting process. The secretary also is charged with safely keeping the laws and resolutions passed by the Ohio General Assembly. The secretary of state’s office grants authority to companies to do business in Ohio and provides the public access to a wide variety of records and documents.
Treasurer of State
Current Treasurer of State: Josh Mandel
In general, the treasurer serves as the state’s banker. The state treasurer manages the state’s multi-billion dollar investment portfolios. Using sophisticated security measures and procedures, the treasurer maintains an accurate account of all state and custodial funds, including those of the state’s five public pension systems.
Supreme Court of Ohio
Justices elected to six-year terms
Term limit: None
Age limit: Must be elected before age 70
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. Most of its cases are appeals from the 12 district courts of appeals. The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction in cases involving questions arising under the Ohio or U.S. Constitutions, cases originating in the courts of appeals, and cases in which there have been conflicting opinions on the same question from two or more courts of appeals. The Supreme Court, which is made up of the chief justice and six justices, hears all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed, unless waived by the prisoner.
Ohio Appellate Courts
Judges elected to six-year terms
As intermediate level courts, the Ohio Appellate Courts’ function is to hear appeals from the common pleas, municipal and county courts. Each case is heard and decided by a three-judge panel. The state is divided into 12 appellate districts. Each district is served by a court of appeals that sits in each of the counties in that district. The number of judges in each district depends on a variety of factors, including the court’s caseload and the size of the district.
Common Pleas Courts, County Courts of Claims and Municipal Courts
Each county in Ohio also has a common pleas court, which hears criminal and civil cases and also decides probate, juvenile and domestic (divorce) cases. Counties also have county and municipal court systems.
More information: The Supreme Court of Ohio & The Ohio Judicial System: www.sconet.state.oh.us
Overlap between the Civil Service System and Collective Bargaining
Civil service and collective bargaining provide two separate sets of rules for governing the employment relationship between the State of Ohio and its employees. You should not think of them as mutually exclusive. Although the collective bargaining agreements specify the terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit employees, various provisions within the agreements mirror or otherwise incorporate portions of the Ohio civil service laws.
As a State of Ohio employee, you are a part of the civil service. The civil service system is designed to objectively award positions or promote employees based on merit and fitness. The civil service is divided into two categories: classified and unclassified.
Classified: Classified employees hold positions that are awarded based on objective merit and fitness, which is typically determined by a competitive selection process such as competitive examination. If you are a classified employee, you have employment protections under the terms of the Ohio civil service laws.
Unclassified: Unclassified employees serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority, who is generally the director of your agency. Unclassified employees are not subject to the competitive selection process that may be associated with classified positions. If you are an unclassified employee, you are not entitled to the employment protections under the terms of the Ohio civil service laws.
*Unclassified employees usually hold policy-making or principal managerial positions with significant authority to act for the agency.
Ohio’s Civil Service Laws and Rules are available at:
codes.ohio.gov/orc/124 and codes.ohio.gov/oac/123%3A1
With respect to collective bargaining, state employees fall into one of two categories: 1) bargaining unit (non-exempt); or 2) non-bargaining unit (exempt). As explained more fully below, some state employees have the right to join, assist or participate in a union and engage in collective bargaining. These employees are often referred to as bargaining unit employees. For bargaining unit employees, the terms and conditions of employment are governed by a collective bargaining agreement. In contrast, other state employees do not have such rights. These employees are often referred to as exempt employees. Ohio’s public-sector labor laws are available at: codes.ohio.gov/orc/4117
Bargaining Unit (Non-exempt):
If you are a bargaining unit employee, you are represented by a labor union which, as a result of an election process, has been certified to represent a particular group of employees. A labor union represents bargaining unit employees in matters related to their employment. Bargaining unit employees also are often classified employees, with some exceptions.
State of Ohio bargaining unit employees are covered by one of these five collective bargaining agreements:
Each collective bargaining agreement contains an alphabetical listing of the classifications that are covered by the particular agreement. Click here for a list of all collective bargaining agreements.
Non-Bargaining Unit (Exempt):
If you are an exempt employee, you are not covered by one of the five collective bargaining agreements listed above. As an exempt employee, you do not have the right to join, assist or participate in a union. Exempt employees also are either classified or unclassified employees.
*Employees are usually exempt from union representation because they are upper-level management, supervisors, or hold positions that are fiduciary in nature or deal with matters associated with collective bargaining.
State employees may be hired under a variety of different appointment types. The following chart describes the hours of work and schedules normally associated with these various appointment types. However, under certain circumstances, these may vary by agency.
Hours of Work
Typically, five consecutive eight hour days per week
Less than 40
Less than 2,080
(Part-time or Full-time)
Generally not more than 40
Work regular hours during a certain regular season or period during the year performing work limited to that season or period of the year
Generally less than 1,000
Work only when needed
For a limited time period
Work when another employee is absent
Determined by agreement between an agency and a union
Generally where there is extra work that is of a temporary nature
For the duration of a project
The State of Ohio has many human resources policies that apply to all state employees. This section is intended to provide an overview of some of the statewide policies. In addition, individual agencies may have agency-specific human resources policies that are adapted from the statewide polices. Therefore, you should always refer to your agency’s policies when you are looking for guidance.
The State of Ohio is a drug-free workplace. As a state employee, you are prohibited from unlawfully manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, or using alcohol or a controlled substance in the workplace. You can access the complete Drug-Free Workplace Policy here. For bargaining unit employees, additional information can be located in your collective bargaining agreement.
Ohio's Office of Drug-Free Workplace Services Program implements the state’s Drug-Free Workplace Policy. The Office of Drug-Free Workplace Services Program is in charge of planning, coordinating and evaluating Ohio's Drug-Free Workplace Program, including state and federal testing programs. The office also helps to ensure compliance with any other federal and state laws, regulations, policies and collective bargaining agreements requiring substance abuse testing. For additional information about the Office Drug-Free Workplace Services Program, click here.
Drug and Alcohol Testing: Drug testing is required for final applicants for unclassified positions and for final applicants for safety-sensitive positions. Safety-sensitive positions include, but are not limited to, positions in law enforcement and health care as well as potentially hazardous positions such as bridge inspectors. Any applicant who tests positive for illegal drugs will not be hired and will not be reconsidered for employment with the state for one year.
Current employees also may be tested when there is reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while on duty. The aim of such testing is to identify employees with substance abuse problems and, if appropriate under the circumstances, assist them in seeking treatment. Certain employees, including safety sensitive employees and employees whose jobs require them to possess a commercial driver’s license and who drive vehicles classified as commercial motor vehicles, are subject to additional drug and alcohol testing, including random testing.
As an employee of the State of Ohio, you hold a position of trust. All employees are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards in accordance with the state’s ethics policies as well as the Ohio Ethics Laws. Some example prohibitions are provided below.
The topics above are only a few examples of the possible conflicts that may confront public employees. They are not intended to represent all of potential ethics-related issues. The Ohio Ethics Laws are contained in Chapters 102 and 2921 of the Ohio Revised Code. Contact your agency’s Chief Ethics Officer or the Ohio Ethics Commission for clarification or additional information (ethics.ohio.gov).
As a state employee, you are prohibited from authorizing or using your authority or the influence of your position to secure employment or other benefits for a person closely related to you by blood, marriage or other significant relationship – including business associations. If you have any questions regarding the personal application of this policy, see your agency’s human resources office or contact the Ohio Ethics Commission at ethics.ohio.gov.
In general, your relatives and close associates may not be employed in your department if you supervise or have personnel authority over the relative/associate, or the relative/associate would have such authority over you.
State of Ohio employees are encouraged to engage in charitable activities for worthy causes. However, with a very limited exception, employees should not engage in charitable activities while on state time. Employees are encouraged to limit participation in charitable activities to non-state-time, or to request leave. With your agency director’s permission you may be permitted to engage in fundraising activities in limited circumstances.
Different rules and restrictions on participation in political activity apply based on your classification type (i.e., classified vs. unclassified). However, regardless of classification type, all state employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities on state time, on state property, or using state resources. Before engaging in political activity, you are encouraged to check with your agency’s human resources office for guidance.
All state employees may:
Classified employees may not engage in partisan political activities, even on your own time. The following is a non-exhaustive list of prohibited activities for classified employees:
If you are an unclassified employee, you may generally participate in political activity on your own time, including partisan political activity.
Only the Governor or the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety can declare a public safety emergency for purposes of limiting a state employee's obligation to travel to and from work for a specific period of time. Public safety emergencies include weather-related emergencies like snowstorms. Each year, your agency must create a list of employees who are expected to work during weather and other public safety emergencies. In general, this list should consist of a “skeletal crew” of employees whose presence is critical to maintaining security, health and safety and critical office operations. If your name appears on this list, you are expected to report to work as scheduled during a declared weather or other public safety emergency. If your name does not appear on this list, you are excused from work for the duration of the weather or other public safety emergency. For specific information regarding your status in the event of a weather emergency, contact your agency human resources department. For bargaining unit employees, refer to your collective bargaining agreement for additional information.
A resource for information about Ohio
Agencies, Departments, Boards and Commissions Contact Information
A list of all State of Ohio agencies including website links and contact information
The Ohio Legislature
For information about current legislation and Ohio’s legislators
The Governor’s Office
For news and resources about the governor of Ohio
The Supreme Court of Ohio and The Ohio Judicial System
For Supreme Court of Ohio announcements, opinions and more
For a comprehensive list of statewide human resources policies
Ohio Laws and Rules
For a comprehensive and current collection of State of Ohio legislation and regulations
Ohio's Office of Drug-Free Workplace Services Program
For general information and additional resources
Ohio Ethics Commission
For general information, the latest press releases, upcoming events and more
Collective Bargaining Contracts
For complete State of Ohio collective bargaining agreements and other resources