Anti-Protest Bill, Redistricting Hearings, and Two Greener Energy Bills
The Ohio Legislature is moving fast this week on several issues affecting Beloved Community: HB 109 adding criminal penalties for protest and the battle over Ohio’s next Congressional map. We also invite you to contact the House Public Utilities Committee as they debate HB 351 to repeal the HB 6 coal plant subsidies, as well as HB 450 authorize community solar projects.
Gun bills: the House Criminal Justice Committee took no vote last week on HB99 to arm school staff with minimal safety training, and hardly any members attended the hearing, where many opponents testified. HB 227 allowing permitless conceal-carry in Ohio is now coming up for a vote on the Ohio House floor. Please contact your representative with your views immediately. Find out how to reach your representative here.
HB 109 on protests is scheduled for possible amendments and a vote in the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 1 pm. No testimony is allowed, but you can watch online. This bill has aroused passionate opposition by many faith leaders because it creates the risk of new criminal penalties for organizers (including congregations and religious denominations) and participants in peaceful protests like Black Lives Matters marches.
On p. 2 of an analysis of this bill (HB109_ACLU-Analysis) Gary Daniels of the ACLU of Ohio writes “In 13 years of full-time lobbying of the OGA and 23 total years with the ACLU of Ohio, I can say, with no exaggeration, HB 109 is easily the most concerning free speech bill I can recall because of its extremely wide impact, its broad and vague language, and the severe penalties.”
Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio (UUJO) is organizing a Silent Protest during the hearing, since no testimony is allowed. This link provides a toolkit for you to contact members of the Criminal Justice Committee.
Equal Districts Ohio is holding a Statehouse Lobby Day Tuesday, Nov. 16 on Congressional maps: Sign up here. Several hearings are being held this week as the Legislature begins debating Congressional maps, since they failed to meet the first deadline, then the Ohio Redistricting Commission also failed to approve maps, and the process now reverts to the Legislature. For a map drawn at this stage to be in effect for ten years, it must pass with bipartisan support including at least 1/3 of the minority party. Here’s an article in the Ohio Capitol Journal about the huge controversies over the process and expected impact of the maps.
Two bills that could make Ohio’s energy policy greener: Read about these bills, then telephone all the members of the House Public Utilities Committee with your views. Go to the link for the Committee, clicking on each member’s picture in turn to access their phone numbers, and calling them. On a smart phone, you can just click the phone number to dial it.
The Committee is holding a proponent hearing Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 10:30 on HB 450, which would allow community solar for the first time in Ohio, and give priority to creating projects on brownfields in Appalachian Ohio. This bill offers new hope for households – particularly tenants to reduce their monthly bills by getting part of their electricity from solar. It would allow virtual net metering: the solar panels would not have to be on the customer’s rooftop, but could be in an array on a former strip mine, for example. HB 351 would end the HB 6 subsidies to two obsolete coal-fired plants and refund the money to ratepayers.
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.