Bill that eliminates training for concealed-carry handgun licenses goes to Ohio governor

A bill to essentially eliminate the need for Ohioans to get concealed-carry handgun licenses has passed the General Assembly.

Substitute Senate Bill 215 passed the House 57-35, and the Senate — which passed a version of the bill in December — concurred with House changes 24-8.

The bill has three basic provisions:

  • A person at least 21 years old who is otherwise legally allowed to have a gun can carry it concealed without a permit, without having to take the now-required eight hours of gun safety training.
  • Holders of a current concealed-carry permit no longer have to carry that license with them.
  • If stopped by police, a person with a concealed weapon no longer has to tell officers about it unless they’re specifically asked.

Republicans shot down multiple amendments offered by Democrats — for a one-page brochure on current firearm laws, for universal background checks and temporary removal of guns from people in crisis.

The Buckeye Firearms Association, which had declared this “constitutional carry” bill as its top legislative priority, hailed its passage.

“We are at a historic moment in Ohio legislative history,” the group announced. “This is the closest we’ve ever been to passing a bill to make the licensing process optional for concealed carry of a firearm. Bills have been presented in former legislative sessions, but have not advanced.”

Ohio chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety network, decried the bill when it headed for the House floor.

“It’s outrageous and frustrating that our lawmakers are ignoring law enforcement’s vocal opposition to permitless carry and continue to push through this dangerous bill,” Kristine Woodworth, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Ohio, said in a news release. “Law enforcement across our state agree — there is no reason to get rid of our permitting system. Gutting permitting requirements will put our communities, and the people whose job it is to keep us safe, in danger.”

Concealed carry licenses will still be available for those who want them, state Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, the bill’s sponsor, has said.

The bill now heads to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to consider signing into law.

Election funding

Another $9 million for Ohio’s 88 county boards of election moved quickly through the Ohio House and was agreed to by the Senate on Wednesday, attached to an unrelated bill.

Substitute Senate Bill 9 originally focused on requiring state agencies to cut regulations — especially on businesses — by 30% by 2025. That’s still included, but now the bill also provides more election funding.

Secretary of State Frank Rose, citing the rapidly approaching May 3 primary and still unsettled legislative district maps, called earlier this week for more funding to help county election boards meet their requirements.

Republicans tabled Democratic attempts to add amendments moving the primary to June 21, and allowing election boards to work with nongovernment groups to recruit poll workers and provide voter information.

The amended bill passed 59-33, and soon afterward the Senate agreed 27-5 to concur with the House amendments.

Tax objections

A bill to change the process for objecting to property tax valuations has passed both the House and Senate — but stalled Wednesday when the House unanimously refused to agree with amendments made in the Senate.

Substitute House Bill 126, sponsored by state Rep. Derek Merrin, R-Monclova Twp., originally would have required school districts to pass a resolution before challenging a property tax valuation. It also would have required the districts to notify the affected property owners of the challenge.

But it was changed in committee to prohibit anyone from filing a property tax complaint with a county Board of Revision, unless that person or entity owns the property in question.

That would prevent school districts from challenging valuations on other properties, and schools could only file a response to an owner’s complaint if the school board passed a resolution to do so.

It would now also forbid a school district and a property owner from making a “private pay” agreement, in which the property owner pays the district not to challenge a valuation; but doesn’t prohibit a new valuation agreement if it’s reflected on the tax list.

The Senate approved the amended bill in December, but county auditors and other public officials who had previously supported the bill came out against the new version.

On Wednesday Merrin urged House members to vote against the amendments, which he said were “wholesale changes” to the bill’s intent.

Hospital visitation

“Shirley and Wilma’s Law” unanimously passed the Ohio House, aiming to require hospitals to allow visitors during a pandemic.

State Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, who cosponsored Substitute House Bill 324 with state Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, explained the bill’s name. Click, a pastor, said it’s named for two members of his church who died while not being allowed visitors during extensive COVID-19 precautions.

The bill would require hospitals to allow the same degree of access during a pandemic as during normal times, with some caveats.

Hospitals across Ohio have at times limited visitation to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Under HB 324, unless a public health order prohibits it, hospitals would be required to allow in-person visits during a pandemic from “the patient’s family, caretakers or clergy,” plus lawyers and “other individuals providing care or companionship to the patient.”

If a public health order is in place prohibiting visitors, hospitals still couldn’t bar visitation if the patient’s condition becomes terminal.

But those visits must be “conducted in such a way as to not endanger the health of hospital patients, staff or other individuals in the hospital facility,” the bill says.

Under the bill, hospitals could require visitors to wear masks and take other “reasonable safety precautions,” such as requiring prior screening for symptoms. They could limit the number of visitors to a patient at one time, but not down to one.

Marijuana for autism

A bill adding autism spectrum disorders to the conditions for which medical marijuana is authorized passed the House 73-13.

House Bill 60 is cosponsored by state Reps. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, and Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.

“This has been three years in the making,” Brent said. Seitz said 17 states have already legalized marijuana for autism.

A “more robust” bill expanding medical marijuana is in a House committee, Seitz said. That’s Senate Bill 261, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City. His bill has already cleared the Senate.

Medicaid for chiropractors

A bill requiring Medicaid to cover initial evaluation and management services by chiropractors passed the Senate unanimously.

House Bill 136, which already passed the House, was sponsored by Lipps.

Russian invasion

Both houses overwhelmingly passed separate resolutions condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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