Commentary

12.19.14

Sunset at the Statehouse

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As the end of the year approaches, what went on in the final days of the 130th Ohio General Assembly?

When last I wrote about the Ohio legislature’s “lame duck” session, I provided updates on the so-called Heartbeat Bill and the lethal injection bill.

From a civil liberties perspective, these were the two most visible bills but not the only ones. Here is a final update on what the Ohio General Assembly did in the waning days of this session:

Heartbeat Bill

House Bill 248 made its way to the House floor for a vote. However, this extreme bill, which would outlaw abortions before many women even realize they are pregnant, went down to defeat with 11 Republicans joining in to vote against it.

Lethal Injection Secrecy

Our members responded in large numbers when we asked them to contact OGA members in opposition to House Bill 663. As it wound its way through the Statehouse, the bill did improve via numerous amendments, but the fundamental problems that caused us to first oppose this legislation remain. HB 663 is now on its way to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature. Following that, we fully expect this matter to end up in the courts.

Traffic Cameras

Much time was spent this session on traffic/red light cameras. The end result was Senate Bill 342, which requires cities to have police officers at traffic camera locations. This mandate will cause most, if not all, cities to abandon the use of this technology. It passed the House and Senate by wide margins and now awaits Gov. Kasich’s signature.

Student Seclusion and Restraints

Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly passed a bill that will improve the lives of vulnerable students. House Bill 178 ensures state regulations regarding student seclusion and restraint practices also apply to charter schools throughout Ohio.

Redistricting

With redistricting reform comes the hope of a legislature that more accurately represents the population of our state, which in turn, will lead to less extremist lawmaking. For that reason, you should know Ohio legislators passed a proposed constitutional amendment changing the way political districts are drawn in our state. As a result, voters will be asked in 2015 if they want to adopt these rules into the Ohio Constitution.

The Ohio House and Senate will begin its next two-year session soon after the new year. As always, we will keep you updated of legislation that may affect your civil liberties.

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