Week in Review: April 13, 2018

Every Monday we send out an email previewing the bills scheduled for action at the Statehouse. But, sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned. This was one of those weeks.

Starting today, as lawmakers wrap up their final six weeks of activiity before taking a long summer recess out on the campaign trail, we’re adding a weekly Friday update on what you may have missed.

Guns, Guns, Guns

Several gun bills had hearings this week. The House State and Local Government committee heard from Representative Henne about House BIll 585, which implements several reforms to Ohio’s gun laws that were recommended by a bipartisan panel convened by Governor Kasich. Committee Republicans were not particularly receptive to the plan, judging from their questions, focusing primarily on the bill’s proposed extreme risk protection order and prohibitions on gun possession by those with felony or domestic violence convinctions. In the Senate, Republicans Kunze and Eklund introduced SB288, a companion measure to Henne’s House bill.

Other gun reform proposals getting hearings were Sens Schiavoni and WIlliams’ so-called “red flag” bill (SB278), and Senator Thomas’s ban on bump stocks (SB219). Chairman Coley generated headlines when he asked why a bump stock ban was necessary when someone can use a rubber band with the same effect.

>> See our complete list of gun reform legislation.

Getting more traction were pro-gun measures. HB253, which would allow law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons off the clock without a permit, was amended by a House committee, while the same committee postponed amendments and a vote on a Stand Your Ground bill (HB228) on that measure’s 4th hearing to date. Another Stand Your Ground bill (SB180) got its fourth hearing in the Senate, drawing opposing testimony from an Ohio Highway Patrol Colonel and the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, among others. Finally, Senator LaRose’s SB234, which would prohibit rental agreements from banning firearms in subsidized housing was scheduled for a proponent hearing but no supporters came forward to speak on its behalf.

Other than that is was a slow week except for OH YEAH THE HOUSE SPEAKER RESIGNED

Elsewhere in the Statehouse, as you may have heard, a rumored FBI investigation into Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and some fancy overseas trips has led to the resignation of the House Speaker. Speculation abounds, but many suspect it involves a trip Speaker Rosenberger took to London with lobbyists for payday lenders.

It was interesting, then, when a bill (HB123) to regulate the payday lending industry unexpectedly stalled in committee the next day. The House Government Accountability and Oversight committee had scheduled an amendment and vote on a “compromise” plan, worked out in private by the House’s 2nd-ranking Republican, Kirk Schuring, but a handful of committee Republicans, apparently reluctant to do anything to restrain the industry, balked. Democrats, too, expressed concerns about voting on anything while the FBI is sniffing around into the industry’s influence.

>> read our recap of Ohio’s recent attempts to curb abusive payday lending practices

Seniors, schools, dogs and voting machines

Also this week, a House committee voted–over objections consumer, senior and poverty advocates and all committee Democrats–to pass a measure (HB402) supported by the Telecom industry to allow landline carriers to raise rates on phone bills without approval by the Public Utilities Commission. Another House committee voted to add $10 million in school safety grant funding to a bill (HB318) to codify the qualifications for school resource officers.

The full House passed a bill (HB263) allowing dogs on restaurant patios (overturning Columbus Health Department rules-woof!), while the Senate approved $115 million in new funding (SB135) for cash-strapped counties to replace aging election equipment.

New Bills We’re Watching

HB590 from Reps. Vitale and Keller, which they call a “no duty to retreat” law looks and sounds a lot like Stand Your Ground.

HB596 from Rep. Ramos, which would allow counties operate more than one early voting location, a much-needed update to current law which limits counties to a single location regardless of size and population needs.

SB290/HB597 from Reps Faber and Sen Burke would prohibit telemarketers from spoofing local phone numbers to get you to answer their calls, which, we can all agree is super annoying (but maybe not quite as important as reducing gun violence).

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