COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced today the Ohio Senate has passed a number of bills and resolutions standing up for law enforcement and strengthening legislative ethics laws. In last week’s session, the Senate condemned efforts to “defund the police.” The legislature also expanded the state’s homestead exemption to help the families of fallen first responders. Additionally, the Senate passed a bill that would remove members from the committee that oversees legislative ethics if those members are indicted for crimes of public corruption. President Obhof co-sponsored each of these measures.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 16, which opposes efforts to defund law enforcement agencies. Such ideas have gained momentum in recent months, as some local governments around the nation have aimed to significantly reduce funding for law enforcement.
“‘Defunding the police’ is a dangerous movement that would leave agencies understaffed and officers undertrained, increasing the risk of violent crime in our communities,” Obhof said. “I am glad that every member of the Ohio Senate, both Republican and Democrat, stood up against the foolishness that we are seeing in other states.”
The Senate also passed House Bill 17, which provides a homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of a peace officer, firefighter, or paramedic who dies in the line of duty or as a result of an injury or illness sustained in the line of duty. House Bill 17 will exempt $50,000 of a home’s appraised value from property taxes or manufactured home taxes.
“Police, firefighters, and other first responders risk their own lives every day to keep our families and communities safe,” said Obhof. “This is the least we can do for the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Finally, the Senate added an important anti-corruption measure to House Bill 66. The bill increases theft victims’ ability to seek restitution from their assailants. Importantly, the Senate added language to the bill which will automatically remove any legislator from the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee if that legislator is indicted for public corruption-related offenses such as bribery, intimidation, or racketeering. The need for this amendment came to light this summer, after former House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were indicted for racketeering as part of an alleged multi-million dollar bribery scheme. Householder nonetheless could not be removed from serving on the ethics panel because current law does not allow a change in membership of the committee during the course of the two-year General Assembly.
“This is an important change that received broad, bi-partisan support in the Senate,” said Obhof, who drafted the Senate amendments to House Bill 66. “While every American is presumed innocent, politicians who have been indicted should not serve on the committee in charge of overseeing legislative ethics.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration. House Bills 17 and 66 have been sent to Governor Mike DeWine for his consideration and signature.