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Ohio governor signs into law new regulations on red-light, speed-enforcement cameras

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Senate Bill 342, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz (R., Cincinnati), would require a police officer be present at camera locations to personally witness a violation before a civil citation could be issued.

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COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich today signed into law new regulations on red-light and speed-enforcement cameras that the cities contend will make them economically infeasible to continue to operate.

The law will take effect in 90 days.

The governor also signed numerous other bills, including those designed to make it easier for Ohio to obtain drugs used to carry out executions, shorten the time frame for fathers to involve themselves in adoption proceedings, and include pets in court protection orders.

Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, and other cities and villages with traffic cameras — along with the out-of-state companies that operate them for a share of the civil fines — will have to decide whether they can still make them work within the confines of the new regulations.

Senate Bill 342, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz (R., Cincinnati), would require a police officer be present at camera locations to personally witness a violation before a civil citation could be issued.

The cities have talked about possible litigation alleging that the law is a practical ban on camera programs and an infringement on cities’ police powers under their constitutional home-rule authority. The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday reaffirmed the cities’ authority in this area in a separate case upholding Toledo’s administrative appeals process.

But this bill would put those programs in direct conflict with state law, so it remains to be seen whether the courts would still feel the same way if another camera case should reach it.

The governor also signed House Bill 663, sponsored by Reps. Matt Huffman (R., Lima) and Jim Buchy (R., Greenville), to permanently shield the identities of those on the teams carrying out lethal injections and at least temporarily shield those who supply the drugs.

It would also create a two-year legislative committee to study the execution process without delving into the appropriateness of the death penalty itself. The new law would expire after two years under the assumption lawmakers will have a law ready to replace it based on that committee’s recommendations.

The state hopes the bill would convince a compounding pharmacy to manufacture from scratch the state’s execution drug of choice, the powerful sedative pentobarbital, now that its European commercial manufacturer refuses to make it available for that purpose.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and newspapers have objected, arguing that it increases secrecy around one of the most important functions of government.

If a compounding pharmacy enters into a contract to provide the drug during the two-year life of the new law, it could have its identity omitted from public records for 20 years after it stops doing business with the state.

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