Ohio lawmakers urged to ban drag queens at children’s events: Capitol Letter (2024)

Rotunda Rumblings

Child proof? Supporters testified to an Ohio House committee about a proposed law banning drag queen story hours and Pride events and other drag events around children. The Wednesday hearing came during Pride Month, as the Ohio House in recent years has acted on anti-LGBTQ+ legislation during June. Supporters described behavior and signage they said children should not be exposed to. Opponents say the bill will likely be described as unconstitutional by a judge, Laura Hanco*ck reports.

Road rules: When you see orange barrels along Ohio highways this summer, you’ll be more likely to also see a state trooper. Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that, starting on Memorial Day, the state highway patrol has increased its presence along 10 highway work zones around the state. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the governor says he hopes the initiative will act as a deterrent for motorists to speed or texting while driving in road work zones, where 99 people have been killed and more than 9,000 injured since 2019.

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Banned: DeWine has banned nine additional synthetic opioids, some of which can be more potent than fentanyl, that officials have linked to a growing number of overdoses. Andrew Tobias writes the drugs all are nitazenes, a category of drugs that were developed in the 1950s as a potential alternative to morphine, but that never ended up being authorized for medical use due to their potential risks and now have emerged as a street drug. An executive order DeWine issued Tuesday means the nine nitazenes will be treated identically to illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine. It updates a similar order DeWine issued in 2022, which contained seven chemically similar substances.

The purge: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has released a list of early 159,000 inactive voter registrations that could be purged ahead of the November election. Per Tobias, the registrations consist of voters who either have filed change of address forms with government offices, or who have not voted for four years after being flagged for cancelation by elections officials. LaRose’s office published a searchable website where voters can check to see if they’re on the list in error before the purge is carried out on July 22.

Tax help for East Palestine: East Palestine residents won’t pay taxes on most of the payments they received from Norfolk Southern after a train derailment spilled toxic chemicals in the community last year, Sabrina Eaton reports. The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department are categorizing most assistance payments and reimbursem*nts as disaster relief that will be exempt from most taxes.

Contraception vote: Even before legislation dubbed the “Right to Contraception Act” was sidetracked in a 51 to 39 U.S. Senate vote on Wednesday, nobody expected the Democratic bill would become law with the House of Representatives under Republican control and with enough GOP Senate votes to block it, Eaton writes. Because of Senate rules, 60 votes were needed to proceed to a vote on the underlying legislation. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, backed the bill, saying Ohioans believe reproductive decisions should be between women and their doctors, and not national or Ohio politicians.

Blame China: The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee passed a resolution by unanimous vote Wednesday condemning China for its alleged role facilitating the global drug trade. As Jake Zuckerman reports, the resolution is purely symbolic, carries no force of law and almost certainly does nothing to reduce fatal overdoses in Ohio.

Here comes the sun: Brown and Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo were among a group of legislators that announced they support a set of antidumping and countervailing duty petitions sought by U.S. solar manufacturers, including Perrysburg-based First Solar. In a letter to the Secretary of Commerce and Chair of the U.S. International Trade Commission, they sought an investigation of Chinese companies with facilities in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that they said are engaging in unfair trade practices to avoid US tariffs and undermine the US solar industry.

Just doob it: The Ohio Division of Cannabis Control awarded two more provisionally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries with certificates of operation: CREAM Apothecaries Ohio LLC, 914 Cleveland St. in Elyria, and Green Power Ohio LLC, 13429 Lakewood Heights Blvd. in Cleveland. This allows the businesses to open to medical patients. It also allows them to apply for dual-use dispensary licenses to also serve recreational marijuana customers. Dual-use applications are expected to be released online by Friday.

Disaster area: Both of Ohio’s U.S. senators on Tuesday asked President Joe Biden to issue a federal disaster declaration in Ohio’s Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson, Guernsey, Noble, Washington, Morgan, and Meigs counties following damage from tornados in April. The declaration would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more disaster recovery resources. DeWine also requested a disaster declaration.

Jordan referral: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Champaign County Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, joined with the GOP chairs of the House Oversight and Ways and Means committees in sending criminal referrals to the Department of Justice recommending that Hunter and James Biden be charged with making false statements to Congress during their impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden. They said James Biden made an incorrect statement about a meeting with Tony Bobulinski, that Hunter Biden made false statements about holding a position at Rosemont Seneca Bohai (RSB), and that Hunter Biden relayed a fictitious account about threatening text messages he sent to his Chinese business partner.

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from the Feb. 15, 2024, ethics disclosure form filed by state Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel, a Columbiana County Republican, about her 2023 finances:

1. Blasdel’s income sources last year included her $76,226.81 legislative salary, capital gains of less than $1,000 from Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (which owns Cedar Point amusem*nt park), and two farm leases – one for somewhere between $10,000 and $24,999, and another for somewhere between $1,000 and $9,999.

2. Her investments included a retirement account and deferred compensation mutual fund with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, a trust in her name, and a simplified employee pension plan with Stifel Nicolaus.

3. Blasdel owns a parcel of land in Unity Township, Columbiana County.

4. At some point during 2023, she owed at least $1,000 to Capital One, Affirm, and Bank of America.

5. Her travel reimbursem*nts in 2023 included $5,345.28 for mileage and $3,500 for lodging expenses from the Ohio House, $429,98 from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce for lodging, and $209.28 from the Ohio House Republican Alliance, the Ohio House GOP’s campaign arm.

On The Move

Katie Seewer is the new press secretary for the Ohio Democratic Party. Sewer is replacing Matt Keyes, who now is deputy communications director for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection campaign.

Republican U.S. Reps. Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati and Bob Latta of Bowling Green are part of a bipartisan congressional delegation traveling to Normandy, France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.


Jeff Reynolds, Ohio House assistant sergeant at-arms

State Rep. Dan Troy

Straight From The Source

“I have found in recent years that every car will beep incessantly if you do not have your seat belt on. So why are we talking about this unless people like to hear ‘beep beep beep beep beep’ incessantly as they drive down the road?”

- Ohio House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, asking a question during a House committee hearing Wednesday while criticizing legislation that would make failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense. State Rep. Kevin Miller, the Newark Republican sponsoring the bill, said in response that “there are ways to get around that beeping.”

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Ohio lawmakers urged to ban drag queens at children’s events: Capitol Letter (2024)


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