Ohio General Assembly returns for lame duck session

Ohio lawmakers return to Columbus this week for a lame duck session in a push to cover a variety of bills before the two-year session of the General Assembly ends in late December.

Seven House and seven Senate committee meetings plan hearings for Tuesday, with bills on the agenda ranging from gun legislation to at-home births and preventing conversion therapy for minors.

As previously reported by The Center Square, Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, introduced a bill earlier this year that would address gun regulations.

Dolan, who lost a U.S. Senate primary earlier this year to U.S. Senator-elect J.D. Vance, said Senate Bill 357 protects both Second Amendment rights and the public.

If the legislation becomes law, those ages 18-21 would need someone 25 or older to co-sign. The cosigner must be there at the time of purchase and sign an affidavit of limited responsibility with the purchase. The co-signer could be civil liable if the gun bought is used or brandished during the commission of a felony while the buyer is under the age of 21.

Dolan’s plan, which is scheduled for its first hearing today, also includes a safety protection order that provides due process to take firearms from those believed to be a danger to themselves or others due to a mental health condition. It would allow probate judges to have law enforcement get and temporarily hold firearms.

The bill would also direct federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to hire more mental health workers in the state and speed up the expansion of regional medical health crisis centers.

“We must change the conversation on public safety in Ohio. Citizens are dying here and across our country, and far too many families are enduring unimaginable pain,” Dolan said when he introduced the bill. “Modernizing the tools we have to defeat gun violence and prevent these deaths doesn't have to be an all or nothing conversation. Senate Bill 357 protects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while also providing the opportunity for those suffering from mental illness to get the help and treatment they need before tragedy occurs.”

Also, House Bill 283, the so-called distracted driving bill, was introduced in 2021 and has had four hearings with only one person testifying against it. It’s scheduled for a fifth hearing Tuesday before the House Criminal Justice Committee.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the bill would all but eliminate drivers legally using mobile phones in cars by any method other than hands free. The bill would implement a single touch or single swipe policy that does allow drivers to use a cell phone for things that only require a single touch, but the phone cannot be held or supported by the driver.

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