Terra Goodnight · February 13, 2017
Happy Monday! It looks to be a busy week at the Ohio Statehouse, with continued hearings on the state budget (see our coverage of that here) while committees work to advance a range of important–and in some cases, dangerous—legislation.
Budget hearings continue this week. The state transportation budget takes center stage, while committees get to work on hearings about state agency funding requests. We continue to encourage you to call your State Representative and let them know which critical needs the state should be funding instead of $3.1 billion in income tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy.
The House has put House Bill 36, the so-called “Pastor Protection Act” on the fast-track for passage. HB36 supporters claim the bill will “protect pastors and churches” from participating in any marriage to which they have a religious objection. While there is no evidence that any member of clergy has ever been forced to perform a wedding against their will–both the Ohio and US Constitution already grant this type of religious freedom–the sponsor says the bill is necessary to avoid the hypothetical possibility of lawsuits. Opponents have noted that the bill’s very broad language could have unintended consequences leading to further discrimination.
On Wednesday, the Community and Family Advancement Committee will hold what may be the only hearing featuring testimony from opponents. Anyone wishing to speak against HB36 must submit written testimony by 4pm Tuesday to the Chair’s office. The hearing will be held in Room 114 of the Statehouse, and is open to the public.
Call Speaker Rosenberger and your State Representative at 1-800-282-0253 and ask them to oppose HB 36, legislation which is unnecessary and could have harmful unintended consequences.
Attend the hearing on Wednesday at 4 in room 114 to send a strong message of opposition.
If you are a faith leader, testify in committee or send a statement by 4pm Tuesday to Rep05@ohiohouse.gov.
State Representative Bill Seitz has introduced House Bill 2, which would limit legal remedies for Ohioans experiencing employment discrimination. Among its provisions, HB2 prohibits lawsuits against individual managers and company officials who engage in sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation. Taking individual employees off the hook could render Ohio’s anti-discrimination law completely unenforceable. The bill will be heard Tuesday at 1:30 in the House Civil Justice Committee.
On Wednesday, Sen Uecker will testify on Senate Bill 28, his proposal to mandate cremation or burial of aborted fetal remains. The bill is a response to a [bogus] video alleged to show Planned Parenthood engaging in the sale of fetal remains, something that investigations—including one by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine—found to be untrue. This unnecessary and costly requirement would be another in a long list of efforts to create undue burdens on women exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. SB28 gets its first hearing in the Senate Government Oversight & Reform committee on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.
In more encouraging news, House Bill 1, a bipartisan proposal to address disparities in the handling of domestic violence cases involving unmarried intimate partners, will also be heard in committee this week. HB1 would allow victims of dating violence to seek court-issued protection orders and access to shelter facilities. The hearing takes place on Wednesday at 4pm in the House Civil Justice Committee.