Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Arrogance of the vanquished

AS IT schleps toward adjournment, the Republican majority in the Ohio General Assembly is deliberately thumbing its collective nose at anyone in the Buckeye State who might be naive enough to believe that the legislature is supposed to act for the good of all citizens.

The way they're acting, you'd think the Republicans won everything in sight on Nov. 7. Instead they lost every statewide office but one and only retained control of the legislature because of gerrymandered districts, even though their House candidates received 125,000 fewer votes statewide than the Democrats' House candidates received.

Lawmakers displayed an appalling disregard for local control on Tuesday when they completed the override of Gov. Bob Taft's veto of a law that loosens restrictions on the concealed-carry of weapons law.

Borrowing a well-worn chapter from the National Rifle Association political playbook, the legislature's largely rural-suburban majority nullified some 80 local gun-control laws - including assault weapons bans - chiefly in cities like Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati.

The action also waters down the two-year-old law further, allowing motorists with gun permits to legally keep their weapons hidden inside motor vehicles instead of in plain sight.

While opinion polls have consistently shown over the years that a healthy majority of Ohioans support reasonable gun-control laws, the GOP lawmakers, along with a few Democrats, chose to disregard their wishes as indicated through a host of long-running local ordinances intended to limit the proliferation of weapons.

We haven't agreed with Governor Taft on much of anything, but we concur with his spokesman that the veto was "the right thing to do, that our cities should have a right to protect their citizens through reasonable firearm regulations."

Some observers had urged that the measure be held in abeyance so the new governor and next legislature could deal with it, but delay probably wouldn't have changed the outcome.

In the House, where 60 votes were needed to override, the tally was a decisive 71-21. With 20 votes necessary, the Senate voted 21-12. Republicans will still hold veto-proof majorities in the coming General Assembly, and Gov.-elect Ted Strickland, an NRA member, had been quoted as saying he supported the legislation.

The action, nonetheless, was an incredible display of arrogance on the part of a Republican majority that often howls loudly about the absence of local control on other matters, such as schools.

Moreover, it isn't the only dirty trick they're up to in Columbus. The Republican juggernaut is using the lame-duck session that ends Tuesday to systematically ram through other sneaky stuff, including a bill we criticized at some length yesterday that would allow Republican legislators to thwart agency rules proposed by the next administration.

Ohioans repudiated the GOP in the November election and broke the party's death grip on power. Yet the Republicans clearly don't understand the public's anger and continue to try to booby-trap the Democrats before the Strickland administration even takes office.

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