News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Greater Akron Chamber


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio




Year in review: Ohio lawmakers tackle slavery, exotic animals, public retirement
Depite party divides, bills passed with bipartisan support -- and some powerful motivators
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT BILL COHEN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Bill Cohen
 
After the incident in Zanesville last year, there were signs along nearby freeways to warn drivers.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

This year was a busy one for Ohio legislators. They debated hundreds of proposals for new laws, and they passed dozens. This morning, our statehouse news bureau looks at some of the major bills that have become law. Here’s Bill Cohen:

Bill Cohen on the bills that passed in twenty-twelve.

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:06)


This was the year state legislators told tens of thousands of state and local government and school employees: “You’re not going to get all of the retirement benefits you expected.’

The changes they made to state law essentially requires many public employees to work two more years. They’ll no longer get an automatic 3 percent hike in benefits each year, with the annual hikes instead being tied to inflation.

Democrats and Republicans alike said the changes were needed to help keep Ohio’s five financially pinched pension systems solvent. And even the government workers themselves barely uttered a protest.

House Speaker Bill Batchelder had this explanation:

“California, Illinois. As people read the paper or watch TV, they see these funds that are just blowing up and (because of the changes) that will not happen in Ohio.

Another long-awaited change
Text while you drive and you could get a ticket for $150. That’s the thrust of another law passed this year. Safety officials, including Kimberly Schwinn of AAA, said texting is even more dangerous than driving drunk. 

“A driver who takes their eyes off the road for just  two seconds actually doubles the risk of crashing. … When you text and drive, you take your eyes off of the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That is long enough to go the length of football field if you are traveling at the rate of 55 mph.”

Lawmakers built into the texting ban especially strong enforcement for 16 and 17 year olds. A few denounced the law as “big brother” government, but others, even some conservatives, said law abiding drivers deserve safe highways.

Human trafficking, felons and jobs
Yet another new law OK’d with bi-partisan support this year cracks down on human trafficking. Numerous reports have documented cases of Ohioans being held in virtual slavery as prostitutes, and Gov. John Kasich was glad to sign the bill.

“I can’t think of a greater evil than to take a young child and destroy them.”

Another non-controversial law passed with bi-partisan backing helps freed felons get jobs. Nate Gordon, who was convicted of passing bad checks as a teen, personified the dilemma many face.

“I have done my time and I paid my debt to society. This record is not who I am; that’s who I was. It prevented me from being employable. So I didn’t have a job for about two to three years.”

Under the new law, automatic bans on ex-felons getting professional licenses – for things like barbering -- are softened or wiped out. And ex-cons with a positive court recommendation can more easily convince perspective employers to hire them.

Controversies on some other bills
Two bills involving animals became law this year. One requires that breeders who raise a lot of dogs be registered and open for yearly inspections by a veterinarian. State Sen. Jim Hues backed the bill.

“This bill is a much needed good start to get the black eye away from Ohio as far as puppy mills.”

This past year was also the year lawmakers cracked down on people who own exotic and dangerous animals. That was in response to a 2011 incident in which a Zanesville man released dozens of dangerous animals and then shot himself to death. Gov. Kasich said public safety demanded the change.

“Imagine being trained to be a police officer, and the next thing you know you are being charged by lions and grizzly bears; it is just really hard to believe.”

The new law sets health and safety standards for facilities housing dangerous animals. Owners unable to meet the standards have started giving up their animals, which caused another dilemma: Wwhere to house them? The state is now building a facility for that.

Expanded gambling
Electronic slot machines at race tracks became a reality this year, thanks to legislators okaying rules for them. Critics charge the move was unconstitutional, because voters didn’t specifically OK the expanded gambling. But supporters called the machines at tracks just an extension of the state Lottery.


Related WKSU Stories

Year in review: Democrats were the big -- but not only -- losers in the Statehouse
Monday, December 31, 2012

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio to appeal ruling keeping Akron's red light cameras in place
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't like tickets drive the speed limit and stop at red lights. It's really all up to you.

Who's on public assistance in Ohio?
legalize marijuana get over it,,, its here its been the main drug test scare of a lifetime. u got people that get drunk every night and work u got peoples on ...

Letters from a lost friend: A Beachwood survivor's Holocaust remembrance
What a great story -- and how important it was for both Marlene and her mother to tell it! Thank you.

Ohio lawmaker calls for an East Cleveland bailout
Instead of blaming Kasich and the Republicans for all of East Cleveland's fiscal woes, take a look at the facts. Some political entities in Ohio are too small ...

Legalized marijuana is a boon for a Cleveland-area grow light maker
Shouldn't he be in jail for paraphernalia? He knows he is selling for marijuana production.

Akron city council to vote on resolution for hiring ex-offenders
Great as a taxpayer I paid for the police to catch them, the free lawyer, the jail to house them , the food their kids eat the medical for them and all its goin...

5 of 8 rule headed for a vote
this is just another way for kasich to pass the buck and claim that it gives the local districts control. Few schools have enough money because of his cuts. T...

A passionate debate about parole in Ohio
I was heartened to hear that the legislators will consider ANY legislation to break the chains the parole board has put on these old law offenders who have serv...

Bill would allow Ohio religious leaders to refuse to do gay marriages
This is just a lot of political posturing. The free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment already protects clergy from being forced by civil authorities to perfo...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University