Advocacy update, December 21, 2021

Advocacy update, December 21, 2021

Advocacy update, December 21, 2021 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection

Bills to allow permitless conceal-carry advance: Governor negotiating over bills to arm teachers

Despite an overwhelming majority of citizen testimony in opposition, the Ohio House and Senate have both passed bills (HB 227 and SB 215) to allow Ohio adults to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. The bills are opposed by law enforcement leaders and organizations including the Fraternal Order of Police. The two houses are almost certain to agree on a final bill.

To express your views, contact your Representative and Senator, and  call or write Governor DeWine.

Also advancing is legislation  to allow school districts to arm teachers or staff with only 20 hours of safety training, compared to over 700 hours under current state law.  The House version, HB 99, was passed by the Ohio House in November. The Statehouse News Bureau reports that Gov. DeWine has been negotiating over the training requirement and is not saying whether he would sign this legislation.

I’m sending you this update two days after hearing a terrifying update from a fellow parishioner during the passing of the peace. She is president of a suburban school board.  The district leadership had alerted parents to the TikTok message calling for school shootings on Friday, Dec. 17, asking that if anyone heard any threats, to say so. Several students reported hearing from one child that he planned to take revenge that day on people who had upset him, using a specific gun his family owned which was kept unsecured in his home. Overnight, the police interviewed all the students who’d reported their concerns and the student who made the threat. He confirmed it, saying he had been “joking,” and was taken into custody. The police confiscated his family’s guns.  The Superintendent and School Board, who had been up all night, decided to hold school on Friday so children could enjoy the end-of-semester celebrations that had been long planned.

Build Back Better bill resurrected?

History professor Heather Cox Richardson offered this succinct summary and update on the Build Back Better bill which suffered a huge setback over the weekend when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced he would not vote for it:

The death of the Build Back Better bill would have huge repercussions. First of all, infrastructure spending is popular in general, both because of the projects it would accomplish and because of the jobs it would provide. Second, without the extension provided in the Build Back Better bill, the child tax credit that has lifted so many children out of poverty will expire, and the child tax credit is very popular (not least in West Virginia, where 181,000 families with 305,000 children benefited from the payments).

The president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, Josh Sword, asked Manchin to get back to the bargaining table, pointing out that the Build Back Better bill would not only lower the cost of health care and child care, but also shore up the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides benefits to thousands of coal miners. It also protects workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively, creates jobs for home care workers, expands care for seniors and those disabled, and invests $4 billion in coal communities “to attract manufacturing companies that will provide good-paying, union jobs.”

Tonight, Manchin appears to have put negotiations back on the table, tweeting: “President Biden’s framework is the product of months of negotiations and input from all members of the Democratic Party who share a common goal to deliver for the American people…. As we work through the text of the legislation I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people.”

As we prepare to welcome the birth of Jesus, a vulnerable child who we name the Prince of Peace, I’ll close with this call to action from Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina, a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence:

“Our prayer is that we find a way as mature disciples of Jesus to pray and work together to help end gun violence. We pray for and support those among us whose lives have been touched by gun violence. We pray for and support mental health professionals who are on the front lines of this work. We pray for and support our legislators who can pass meaningful and common-sense legislation to stem the tide of violence.”

Bishops United Against Gun Violence wearing orange stoles for National Gun Violence Awareness Day for victims of gun violence.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com