Advocacy update May 17, 2022

Advocacy update May 17, 2022

Advocacy update May 17, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection
New gun rights expansion bills moving in Ohio Legislature

SB 293, which would prohibit fees or liability insurance for gun owners, has a proponent hearing today (May 17) in the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee. That means a hearing for opponent testimony could take place next week. If you write testimony, you can submit it to Chair Frank Hoagland at sd30@ohiosenate.gov together with a witness statement, which includes who you are, the bill you are testifying on, and a summary of your views.  Click here for a a fillable witness form. Here’s an analysis of the bill by the Ohio Legislative Services Commission.

SB 168, which has already passed the Senate, will be introduced in the House Criminal Justice Committee on Thursday, May 19 at 10 a.m.  Here’s the analysis by the non-profit Everytown for Gun Sense in America: “SB 168 is a bill that creates a statewide school safety training program with a group of regional trainers who can train and work with school staff on school safety. These regional trainers are explicitly authorized to offer firearms training to school staff. This training would be designed by the Peace Officer Training Commission. If staff completes this training, they can be designated to carry guns in schools (as long as they have a CCW permit). Overall, the bill would explicitly allow for armed teachers and staff- the crux of our opposition is that this would encourage more schools to enter the program and would increase the amount of armed teachers in our schools. This essentially creates a statewide formal program to arm teachers.”

Stay tuned for information on upcoming hearings where public testimony will be accepted.

Constitutional amendment on bail passed House committee, bail reform bill supported by Council of Churches has third hearing

As I reported last week, two opposing views of bail are moving through the Ohio Legislature. Last week a proposed constitutional amendment, HB 607, which would require courts to consider public safety in setting bail, was approved by the House Criminal Justice Committee and reported to the House.
The other bail proposal, HB 315, and its companion bill SB 182, is supported by the Ohio Council of Churches and many racial equity groups.

These bills emphasize the other tools that courts have to protect public safety, like pre-trial detention. They would require courts to make a pretrial-release decision within 24 hours. Any conditions on release must be non-monetary, and fit the danger the court determines that the defendant poses, such as domestic violence. Bail would be used if the defendant is likely to fail to show up for trial. If the court sets bond as a condition of release, the amount must be based on a determination of the accused person’s ability to pay. Here’s an overview of the bail reform prepared by the Ohio Judicial Conference.

Last week both bills were on the agenda for the May 12 Criminal Justice Committee hearing but no testimony was accepted on HB 315. It’s on the agenda again for Thursday, May 19, at 10 a.m. for “invited testimony only.”  Nevertheless, you can send your views to the Committee Chair, Jeff LaRe, at criminaljusticecommittee@ohiohouse.gov.  It will be powerful to speak from the perspective of your faith and any personal experience you have with the impacts of bail and incarceration on the community you serve. Please give your name, address, email, and phone number.

  • Supporters of the constitutional amendment (HB 607) want to get it through both chambers before the summer recess so it can be put on the ballot this fall.  This is a rebuff to the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in DuBose v. McGuffey to support the ruling of a lower court reducing the bail set for a defendant in Cincinnati because it was beyond his ability to pay.

    The bill reflects the escalating conflict between the Ohio Legislature and the Ohio Supreme Court, with some legislators discussing the idea of impeaching Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor over her support for all the decisions this year that ruled draft legislative maps unconstitutional. The analysis of the bill by the Ohio Legislative Services Committee says that “the General Assembly declares in the bill that its intent is to supersede the effect of the holding of the Ohio Supreme Court in DuBose v. McGuffey.”

    The ACLU of Ohio and the Buckeye Institute, a conservative think tank, have both expressed concerns about the constitutional amendment. “Ability to pay does not equate to public safety. If an individual is a threat to society, we should be giving judges the authority and the discretion to detain them pre-trial. We shouldn’t simply be increasing the price that they have to pay,” said Buckeye Institute President Robert Alt.

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