Lawmakers hedge their bets with multiple Reagan Tokes Act bills

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – The legislative process continues as lawmakers work on getting the Reagan Tokes Act through the Ohio legislature.

Wednesday, Senate Bills 201 and 202 received their first hearing in front of the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

They are identical to House Bill 365 broken into two separate bills; one for the legislation that addresses sentencing offenders and the other with the rest of the bill dealing with convicts reentry into society and GPS monitoring standards.

The bills are a result of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes.

Critics say, the man allegedly responsible was not being effectively monitored by GPS and should not have been released from prison based on his behavior behind bars.

State Senators Kevin Bacon and Sean O’Brien provided sponsor testimony at the hearing and fielded far fewer questions from the committee than their counterparts had to answer during the House Criminal Justice Committee hearing.

Bacon says, the committee members may be saving their questions for subject matter experts that are expected to testify in future hearings.

The pair of senators wanted to give the legislation enough leeway to at least keep portions of it moving through the legislative process.

Because the bill is being introduced late in the first half of the General Assembly session, time is not a friend to any legislation.

Senator Bacon has concerns the issues tackled in SB 202, the re-entry and GPS monitoring portion of the legislation, may get held up in committee as lawmakers work through something new and deal with answering the fiscal responsibilities the bill carries.

If that happens SB 201, the bill that deals strictly with sentencing of convicted felons, can keep moving so at least something may be accomplished.

Meanwhile House Bill 365, which combines both Senate Bills, is being dealt with as a single item and may run into the same roadblocks SB 202 may face.

Senator Bacon says, taking this strategy with the legislation is like professional car racing where owners may field several cars with different fuel strategies.

Next up for all of the bills will be a second hearing where supporters of the bill can testify.

All parties involved hope to have those hearings in the very near future.

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