Thank you to everyone in the diocese who advocated on the policy issues we followed in the 133rd session of the Ohio Legislature:  gun safety, creation care, and criminal justice reform.  Here are some updates at the start of a new two-year session:

Moving Ahead on Ohio Energy Issues

Jan. 21, 3 pm, Zoom: Rachel Belz of Ohio Citizen Action and SeMia Bray of Black Environmental Leaders will discuss:  what’s next for HB6?  Will the tainted law be repealed, and why is Ohio’s energy policy so riddled with corruption? What’s next for sustainable, equitable energy efforts beyond HB6? Please register in advance. You will receive follow up information on accessing the webinar.

Governor signed SB 33 into law on Jan. 11

This bill escalates criminal charges on protestors of fossil fuel sites like fracking wells, pipelines, and coal-fired plants and puts churches and other non-profits at risk for major financial penalties if they help to organize demonstrations. The most up-to-date analysis of the bill by the Ohio Legislative Service Comission is posted here: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/download?key=13302&format=pdf

Governor signed criminal justice reform bills

SB 256 abolishes life sentences without parole (with some exceptions) for juvenile offenders. HB 156 prohibits the death penalty for people with serious mental illness when they committed aggravated murder, and instead requires life imprisonment without parole. HB 1 will allow more people into diversion programs for drug and alcohol abuse in lieu of a criminal conviction, and make it easier to seal records for past convictions, reducing barriers to employment.

Legislative advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming,  and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.