Information on anti-protest bills in Ohio Legislature
Religious Americans have rallied for generations as a moral voice on issues from voting rights to environmental protection. The Ohio Legislature is considering several bills that would create new criminal and financial dangers for Ohioans exercising their right of assembly, as many Episcopalians have been doing across the country to express their concerns on community-police relations, fracking, and pipelines. SB 33, signed in January, penalizes and sets criminal penalties for peaceful protest at oil and gas infrastructure sites. HB 109, HB 22, and SB 41, introduced this year, would create new criminal and financial penalties for people and individuals (such as churches or the diocese) for publicizing or participating in protests.
This is the time to inform yourself so you can write legislative readers from your perspective as an Ohioan of faith. You can read an overview of these bills on the Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio website: https://uujo.org/take-action/our-voices-together-pro-democracy-action/ This page also includes the names and contact information for members of the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Criminal Justice Committee.
UUJO is holding a virtual “Public Square” story circle July 21 at 7 p.m. to share your story and practice testifying. Sign up here
Governor signs SB 52 into law
I’ve reported several times on this bill giving county elected officials the power to block utility-scale wind and solar farms. It creates barriers for renewable energy not faced by other electric generation sources. Senate Bill 52 passed rapidly in the Ohio House and Senate late at night at the very end of the legislative session, and was signed by Governor DeWine July 12.
SB 52 is concerning for the diocese and at least two Episcopal congregations who are exploring leasing church-owned land for solar farms. The bill was opposed by the Ohio Farm Bureau. In addition to lease payments for landowners, these installations would boost funding for local services and public schools by generating significant, dependable new property tax revenue for at least two decades. You can read an article about the bill and how various legislators acted on it here.
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.