Thursday, Jan 19, 2017
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Kasich signs weapons, puppy bills

Concealed carry expanded; Toledo pet store regulations overridden

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich signed bills Monday that expand where Ohioans may carry hidden handguns, and prohibit local governments from raising the minimum wage or placing more restrictive rules on pet stores.

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Senate Bill 199 would lift the state’s current ban on carrying concealed firearms in day-care centers, public areas of airport terminals, school safety zones, and certain government buildings, and would give the boards of trustees at public colleges and universities the authority to allow weapons on campus. 

Gun rights advocates have called such places where guns are currently off limits “victim zones.”

Private businesses, including day-care centers, could continue to post themselves as off limits, and guns would still be forbidden in courthouses, police stations, and the Statehouse.

The law, taking effect in 90 days, would also allow those with concealed carry permits to legally store their weapons in their cars while parked in private business lots. It stopped short, however, of granting concealed-carry license holders protected legal status similar to those in state law for race, color, sex, national origin, and religion.

“The bottom line is we will have a state law that prohibits employers from adopting discriminatory policies,” said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “That will protect employees who work for businesses that now have those policies.

“They can protect themselves and their lives as they go to and from work …,” he said. “A lot of people don’t carry at all because they’re afraid of making a mistake at work. Now they can make it a part of their daily lives.”

The language was added to a bill, sponsored by Sens. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) and Joe Uecker (R., Loveland), that would waive concealed-carry training requirements for those with military identification who have already had firearm training.

“Governor Kasich ignored the concerns of law enforcement, business leaders, gun violence survivors, moms, day-care providers, campus stakeholders, and students,” said Michele Mueller, volunteer leader for the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “By signing Senate Bill 199, Governor Kasich is siding with gun lobby interests over public safety.”

Override ordinances

In addition to prohibiting stricter regulation for pet stores in cities like Toledo, Senate Bill 331 would prohibit cities from taking it upon themselves to raise the minimum wage above what is provided under state law. Ohio’s hourly minimum wage, adjusted annually for inflation, will be $8.15 in 2017.

The bill also prohibits local governments from imposing polices concerning hours and location of work, scheduling, and benefits on private employers.

The new state rules for pet retailers would override ordinances already in place in Toledo and the Columbus suburb of Grove City, that generally require retailers to acquire their puppies from animal shelters, rescues, and humane societies.

State rules would expand that list to include a “qualified breeder,” smaller and larger operations that meet certain conditions. The idea behind the local ordinances was to cut off demand for higher-volume breeding operations with poor reputations known as “puppy mills.”

“We’re disappointed that Governor Kasich gave in to corporate special interests and lobbyists for the puppy mill industry by signing Senate Bill 331,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said. “This bill was a last-minute sneak attack on Ohio voters, citizens, and communities that are taking action to improve their economic fortunes, protect their quality of life, and crack down on horrific abuses against animals."

The bill was sought by the Chillicothe-based, global retailer Petland, which has a store in Grove City, and was supported by the Happy Puppy in Toledo’s Franklin Park Mall.

“Misguided local pet sale bans that prohibit the sale of puppies from regulated and inspected breeders have failed to improve conditions for dogs at ‘puppy mills,’ ” said Brian Winslow, Petland’s vice president of animal welfare education. “Instead, such bans have encouraged unregulated and inhumane pet breeding operations,” he said. “S.B. 331 will require all Ohio pet stores to purchase from breeders that meet defined buying standards that encourage improved humane animal welfare.”

In all, the governor signed 17 bills, including House Bill 154, sponsored by Reps. Mike Sheehy (D., Oregon) and Michael Henne (R., Clayton). It requires motorists to give bicyclists a berth of at least 3 feet.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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