MARCANO: School threats, Statehouse protests and more

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

It’s been a big news week, and these issues caught my eye.

Make school threats a felony: We can’t have our schools under attack. Kettering Fairmont High School canceled classes for a day following a school shooting threat. Police, who acted swiftly with school officials, detained a 14-year-old suspect. Just a week prior, police arrested a 41-year-old man they said made a threatening call about someone shooting LGBTQ students at Fairmont. And now Bellbrook schools have created an armed shooter response team that includes teachers and staff.

Schools should be safe havens of learning, not symbols of possible slaughter. Lawmakers, ignoring Republicans and Democrats, won’t enact common-sense gun laws, like reinstating the assault weapons ban. Absent that, they can strengthen other existing laws because, now, suspects who make certain threats against schools face misdemeanor charges.

That’s not strong enough. Threats against a school should warrant a felony charge with a minimum jail sentence. That won’t stop someone intent on doing harm — ask the nearly 600 children and teens who have died this year from gun violence. But stronger laws might cut down on people who think it’s OK to scare children and administrators already on edge.

Let parents decide: Senate Bill 30 would let teenagers work until later into the evening. Currently, 14- and 15-year-olds can only work until 7 p.m. during the school year but would be allowed to work until 9 p.m. with parental approval. These teens would still be limited to working three hours a day and 18 hours a week while school is in session. The opposition raises good points. Young students should be focused on school, and working later could disrupt the sleep they need to concentrate on their studies. More practically, extending the workday by two hours provides flexibility for students with after-school obligations. Let the parents and their children decide what’s right for them.

Columbus protests: Two bills out of Columbus have sparked a backlash. More than 500 people, either in writing or in person, testified against Senate Bill 83, which would restrict free speech on college campuses. It took more than seven hours for the Workforce and Higher Education committee to hear the opposition. And protestors inside and outside the Statehouse chanted, “One person, one vote,” as lawmakers set an August election to make amending the state constitution harder. Lawmakers should take note. House Speaker Jason Stephens dismissed the protest, saying it was only 150 people out of 12 million, but he missed the point. The protests against rights restrictions have taken on a sense of urgency. Ohio might be a red state, but it’s not crimson red, as healthy majorities agree with abortion rights, fair redistricting, and not allowing a minority of the vote to override a majority. Stephens says he thinks Ohioans will vote in August to restrict their rights. I can’t think of one instance in American history where citizens approved of the government clamping down on their freedoms. Why would Ohioans vote to make it harder for them to have a voice in state government?

Speaking of the August election: While election day falls on Aug. 8, early voting starts on July 11 and ends on Aug. 6. Mark your calendars. The busy summer months tend to fly by, but this August election carries more importance than any summer ballot initiative in recent memory. If you will be out of town, take advantage of early voting and cast your ballot. It isn’t hyperbole to say this election determines whether Ohioans will be governed by majority or minority rule.

Ray Marcano’s column appears on these pages each week. He can be reached at

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