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Another hearing on controversial Ohio bill sparked by George Floyd protests

 Protestors pack the Statehouse West Lawn as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers guard the entrance during a demonstration on May 31, 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Protestors pack the Statehouse West Lawn as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers guard the entrance during a demonstration on May 31, 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A bill that could put increased penalties on protestors will be heard in an Ohio House committee Wednesday.

But those who want to speak to the committee members about it won’t be able to do so in person.

Only written testimony is being accepted on what’s called the “Ohio Law and Order Act", which creates a crime of riot assault with escalating penalties if a police officer is attacked. It also allows law enforcement officers to sue people for injuries or what the bill terms "false complaints", though it isn't clear on what entity determines whether a complaint is "false".

Gary Daniels with the ACLU said he's also concerned about a reference to "material support or resources" in the bill, which he said is a term that's come up in anti-terrorism laws. He said the bill could allow for assets of protestors to be seized and organizations to be shut down.

“The bill is so broad and so vague they're going to capture an awful lot of constitutionally protected free speech. And the practical end to all of this will be a lot of people are just simply going to stop speaking," Daniels said.

The bill’s sponsors, Reps. Cindy Adams (R-Harrison) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) have said it supports law enforcement, small business owners and people who want to protest while holding those who break the law accountable.

Two dozen opponents offered testimony at the last hearing on the bill in June.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.