While the Ohio Senate this week will take up legislation declaring racism a public health emergency, the Ohio House is taking a far different approach, advancing dangerous Stand Your Ground legislation shown to lead to more violent deaths, particularly among African-Americans.
House Bill 381, up for a hearing in House Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday afternoon, states that “a person who is not engaged in illegal activity has no duty to retreat from a place the person is lawfully present before using or threatening to use reasonable force, including deadly force, in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence.” It would promote the escalation of violent confrontations rather than requiring participants to take steps to de-escalate before resorting to the use of deadly force. Stand Your Ground was the legal justification that resulted in the Florida vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. House Bill 381 even declares that deadly force is justified “even when an alternative course of action is available.” The nonpartisan RAND Corporation studied the effects of Stand Your Ground legislation in states that have adopted it and found it to lead to higher homicide rates and violent crime. Florida saw a 32% increase in firearm homicides after Stand Your Ground legislation was adopted, and, in African-American communities, firearm homicides increased by 23%.
Last week, members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus introduced a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis. The Senate Health Committee will hear the Senate version (SCR14) tomorrow (see below for details on committee times and location), but the House version (HCR31) has not been granted a hearing. House leaders are so tone-deaf that they have chosen to instead push legislation linked to increased firearm-related homicides of African-Americans while Ohioans are literally outside their doors demanding that Black lives be respected and valued. These misplaced priorities must be called out, just as we do when we link arms in the streets, calling for justice and an end to systemic racism.
New Legislation This Week
Here at the new bills introduced last week that we will be monitoring. You can also view the complete list of bills we’re tracking.
- House Bill 684 (Hood, Brinkman) – Academic Content – to revise the law with regard to the state academic content standards and primary and secondary education assessments and teacher evaluations, to create the Legislative Office of Education Oversight, and to make other changes regarding the operation of primary and secondary schools.
- House Bill 686 (Sobecki, Crossman) – School Requirements – to waive state testing requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, to provide exemptions from state report cards and other provisions related to test results, and to declare an emergency.
- House Bill 687 (Hicks-Hudson, Sweeney) – Election Laws – to make changes to the Election Law.
- House Concurrent Resolution 31 (Howse, Crawley) – Racism – to declare racism a public health crisis and to ask the Governor to establish a working group to promote racial equity in Ohio.
- Senate Bill 319 (M. Huffman) – Education Laws – to make changes to education law for the 2020-2021 school year in response to implications of COVID-19, to require the Department of Education to make an additional payment in fiscal year 2020 or 2021 to certain school districts that experience a decrease in the taxable value of the district’s utility tangible personal property, to permit furloughing of certain school employees through June 30, 2021, and to declare an emergency.
- Senate Concurrent Resolution 19 (Craig, Williams) – Racism – declare racism a public health crisis and to ask the Governor to establish a working group to promote racial equity in Ohio.
Statehouse Meetings & Events
Tuesday, June 9
9:30 am – Senate Health, Human Services & Medicaid – 1st hearing (sponsor & proponent testimony) on SCR14 (Racism) and 3rd hearing (opponent testimony) on SB311 (Health Orders). Senate South Hearing Room or watch online.
10 am – House State & Local Government – 4th hearing (all testimony) on HB671 (Health Orders), 4th hearing (all testimony, possible substitute) on HB624 (COVID-19 Testing), 3rd hearing (all testimony, possible substitute) on HB621 (Business Openings), and 1st hearing (sponsor testimony) on HB649 (Health Orders) and HB618 (Health Orders). Statehouse Room 121 (overflow in Room 122) or watch online.
11:30 am – Senate Ways & Means – 6th hearing (all testimony, possible vote) on SJR3 (Tax Increases). Senate Finance Hearing Room or watch online.
1pm – House Session – agenda TBD. Watch online.
1 pm – Senate Education – 1st hearing (sponsor) on SB292 (E-School Attendance), 1st hearing (sponsor & proponent) on SB288 (Religious Expression), 3rd hearing (opponent) on HB164 (Religious Expression) and 4th hearing (all testimony, possible amendments) on SB121 (Health Standards). Senate South Hearing Room or watch online.
3 pm – House Criminal Justice – 3rd hearing (opponent testimony) on HB381 (Stand Your Ground). Statehouse Room 017 or watch online.