Ohio's Governing Structure

1. Ohio Has Three (3) Branches of State Government

Ohio's State government, like the US government, has three (3) branches. They are:

  • The Executive Branch (headed by the Governor of Ohio)
  • The Judicial Branch (headed by the Ohio Supreme Court)
  • The Legislative Branch (headed by the President of the Ohio Senate & the Speaker of Ohio's House of Representatives)
1.1 The Ohio Legislative Branch
  • The legislative branch of the Ohio government is called the Ohio General Assembly and is newly-numbered every 2-years when a new General Assembly is sworn-in and seated
  • The Ohio General Assembly is comprised of two chambers, the Ohio Senate & the Ohio House of Representatives
  • The Ohio Senate has 33-members who serve 4-year terms
  • The Ohio House has 99-members who serve 2-years terms
  • Ohio Senators & Ohio House members serve constituents in their districts (33 Senate districts & 99 House districts)
  • Each Ohio Senate district is comprised of 3 Ohio House districts
  • Ohio Senators are term-limited to 2-terms (8-years)
  • Ohio House members are term-limited to 4-terms (8-years)
  • Election of all Ohio House members takes place every 2-years (even-numbered years)
  • Election of Ohio Senate members takes place in two "classes" with 17 elected along with one Ohio House election and 16 elected along with the next Ohio House election (staggered terms)
1.2 The Ohio Judicial Branch

Ohio Judicial Structure

The primary function of the judicial branch is to fairly and impartially settle disputes according to the law. To do this, a number of courts have been established in the state by the Constitution and by acts of the General Assembly.

Further, in addition to its place in the court structure as the court of last resort, the Supreme Court, in particular the Chief Justice, is responsible for the administration of the judicial branch in Ohio.

1.3 The Ohio Executive Branch

The executive branch of Ohio’s state government includes six elected officials: the Governor and Lieutenant Governor (elected as a team), the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Auditor of State, and the Treasurer of State. All are elected in even-numbered, non-presidential election years to serve four-year terms.

In addition to these officials, the executive branch includes the State Board of Education (comprised of 11 members elected from individual districts and eight members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate), the Chancellor of Higher Education (appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate), the Adjutant General (appointed by the Governor as the military chief of staff), and the departments and other agencies responsible for administering laws and implementing state policy.

The executive branch also includes many independent boards and commissions established for specific purposes. The Governor supervises these departments and agencies and appoints department directors as well as members of numerous boards and commissions, many also with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, however, is appointed by and is under the policy supervision of the State Board of Education.

Source: Ohio Legislative Service Commission

2.0 Ohio County Government

Ohio county government is the structure of official managerial and legal bodies of the counties of Ohio. The basic framework has not been changed since the nineteenth century. The Ohio Constitution allows counties to set up a charter government as many cities and villages do, but only Summit and Cuyahoga counties have done so. Counties operating under a constitutional government do not possess home rule powers and can do only what has been expressly authorized by the Ohio General Assembly. However, Article X of the Ohio Constitution gives county government benefits similar to those conferred on cities and villages under the home rule amendments of 1912.

2.1 County Commissioners Association of Ohio, The

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.

2.2 Ohio Council of County Officials (OCCO)

The OCCO is dedicated to uniting county elected officials’ associations to create a forum to:

• Discuss issues of mutual concern,
• Advocate in the General Assembly for legislative outcomes that are beneficial to county government, and
• To promote a greater understanding by the Citizens of Ohio of the important role county government serves.

The Ohio Council of County Officials includes:

• Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association (BSSA)
• County Auditors Association of Ohio (CAAO)
• County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO)
• Ohio State Coroner’s Association (OSCA)
• County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO)
• Ohio Judicial Conference (OJC)
• Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association (OPAA)
• Ohio Recorders Association (ORA)
• County Treasurers Association of Ohio (CTAO)
• Ohio Clerk of Courts Association (OCCA)

This site provides easily accessible information concerning joint legislative priorities, upcoming meetings and events, and representatives from each association.

3.0 Ohio Townships

State law authorizes Ohio townships to operate under a basic form of government and perform a wide variety of functions. There are 1,308 townships in Ohio and they are varied in population size, annual operating budget, and range of services delivered to residents.

Ohio townships most commonly provide residents with services such as road maintenance, cemetery management, police and fire protection, emergency medical services, solid waste disposal, and zoning. Other functions include economic development, accounting, and finances (taxes, borrowing, grants, special assessments, fees, etc.), public records, land use planning, blight elimination, cable and other franchise management, community centers, building code enforcement, off-road vehicle regulation, street lighting, public information, and youth programs. Ohio townships have direct responsibility for maintaining 41,000 miles of roads and streets, and townships manage more than 2,400 cemeteries.

(from Ohio Township Association)

3.1 Find your Ohio Township

A search capability to identify your Ohio township by address.

(thanks to randymajors.org Research Hub)

A. Ohio Constitution

Link to the Ohio Constitution.

B. Ohio Laws

Link to what Ohioans commonly call the Ohio Revised Code (ORC).

C. Ohio Administrative Code

Link to the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).