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Debate begins over language on bail reform and non-citizen voting ballot issues

Sign for bail bonds services in Columbus.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Sign for bail bonds services in Columbus.

State leaders are preparing to make their arguments for and against two ballot issues set to be decided by voters this November.

The issues to change the state’s bail system and to bar non-U.S. citizens from voting went before the Ohio Ballot Board Tuesday. Members of the board approved the group of legislators who will be writing the required arguments for and against the issues.

Legislators approved a resolution, HJR2, to allow judges to consider public safety when setting bail. Supporters have said the constitutional change to the state’s bail laws will give judges more tools to determine if someone poses a threat to the public and therefor can set a higher bail.

Opponents have said — if the state wants to protect public safety — then it should expand the use of a pretrial release hearing, instead of setting a high bail payout.

That measure passed by a party-line vote with Republicans approving the resolution.

The ballot board gave approval for Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.), Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), and Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Huron) to write the argument in support of the issue and for Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) to right the argument in opposition.

The resolution, HJR4, to ban local governments from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections also passed the state legislature in June with a unanimous vote in the Ohio Senate. The Ohio House approved the ballot issue with every Republican and a handful of Democrats supporting the measure.

Supporters have said the ballot issue will ensure elections security, but opponent argue local governments should be allowed to make their own rules for local races.

The legislators tapped to argue for the ballot issue include Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), and Sen. Bill Blessing (R-Colerain Twp.) with Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood), Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), and Rep. Bishara Addison (D-Shaker Heights) selected to write the argument against the issue.

Each argument can be no longer than 300 words and every entry must be submitted to the secretary of state’s office by August 22.