Bill revising laws for safety on amusement rides has slim chance to be in place for this summer

Ohio Statehouse News

After an amusement ride at the Ohio State Fair was part of a tragic accident that took the life a young man last summer, lawmakers began looking into what they could do to help protect Ohioans.

After months of careful consideration, the crafting of a piece of legislation has yielded what is now being called Tyler’s law after the victim of that accident.

The bill as introduced today revises the Ohio Code in relation to the operation and safety of amusement rides.

It also carries an emergency clause, which means as soon as the Governor signs it into law it will go into effect. 

Normally there is a 90 day waiting period before a bill goes into effect after the Governor signs it here in Ohio.

The sponsors of this bill say it is vitally important to protecting Ohioans, and as we are rapidly approaching the summer season, now is the time to make sure it is in place.

But that may not happen.

There are number of unforeseen factors that are contributing to how the situation is currently projected to play out.

First is when the bill is being introduced. Had it been introduced earlier in the General Assembly lawmakers would have had more time to work on it before it ran into the second issue it faces.

The second issue it faces is the lawmaker’s summer break.

Because our legislature is a part-time legislature, they are not here every single day working for you. 
Many of them are professionals with other careers and families to attend to as well.

Traditionally, the summer has been taken off by lawmakers, and falls roughly along the lines of school summer breaks.

In odd numbered years, like last year, the state operating budget tends to keep them here into early summer as they wrap things up in mid to late June.

But in even number years, which also coincide with election years, there is no operating budget to muddle through.

On top of that lawmakers typically get the week before and after Easter off, as well as the week before and after the May primary off.

This year on top of all that time off, former Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger resigned suddenly.
While committee chairman can still call hearings for their committees, the State House of Representatives cannot vote on anything until a new Speaker is chosen.

That isn’t going to happen until at least May 16, roughly two weeks from now.

Because the House Rules and Reference Committee, which is normally chaired by the Speaker of the House, doesn’t normally meet much more than 24 hours before a House voting Session, according to Brad Young the House Clerk, Tyler’s Law faces its third obstacle. 

In order to be worked on by lawmakers, Tyler’s Law must first go through Rules and Reference to be assigned to a committee that will hear testimony on it.

The Rules and Reference Committee Vice-Chairman can call a meeting of the committee if the Chairman is absent, which in this case he is, but that is not something Young has heard being discussed at this time.

So the next likely time Rules and Reference is likely to meet will be May 15th, and at that time the might assign Tyler’s Law to a committee. Or they could wait until the next committee meeting.

Several bills are waiting to be assigned by the Rules and Reference committee which hasn’t met for some time and lawmakers continue to introduce new bills to be worked on.

Once Tyler’s Law does get assigned to a committee, it will need to go through the normal legislative process which takes time.

Your opinion, and the opinions of other interested parties need to be heard on the bill. That could take a few weeks.

As a result, since lawmakers will only have a few weeks to work on the bill before they leave for summer break, the window to get it passed may be too short.

And even if the House of Representatives do fast track the bill through committee and vote it through their chamber, the Senate would still have to work on it.

Some lawmakers don’t like to fast track bills. They like to make sure all due diligence is put into examining the bill to make sure there are no unintended consequences or loopholes that defeat the purpose of the bill.

That is why few things move with the kind of speed that will be necessary to have Tyler’s Law on Governor Kasich’s desk before the end of May.

Tyler’s Law may make it to the Governor before the traditional lame-duck portion of this General Assembly; which is to say sometime in November or December, according to one of the bill’s sponsors Representative John Patterson.

Despite having bi-partisan support, given the time constraints, and the need to put the bill through due diligence, he would be ecstatic if it passed in time for the summer fair season, but realistically he is prepared to see it still being worked on when lawmakers return in the fall in September and October, with a likelihood of passage in November or December.

Patterson says the emergency clause in the bill is pointless if lawmakers can’t get it done before they go on summer break. 

Ultimately, he just wants lawmakers to start discussing the issue of protecting Ohioans who enjoy amusement rides as soon as possible.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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