Republicans introduced legislation this week to restrict bathroom use by transgender students. A group that sued the state over school vouchers demanded an apology from Ohio’s auditor, and craft brewers pushed for legal change.
We break down what it all means on this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained. A podcast created by the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau to get you up to speed on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less.
This week, host Anna Staver joined state bureau chief Anthony Shoemaker.
Ohio lawmakers are targeting school bathrooms
A bill introduced this week by House Republicans would require K-12 and college students to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.
“I feel for the superintendents. I feel for the schools,” said Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond. “They’re really distressed to feel that they’re being forced to allow boys in the girls’ bathroom and vice versa. It feels like the right time.”
But opponents of House Bill 183 say it’s another disappointing move in the ongoing culture war over LGBTQ rights.
“To suddenly make it an issue, it’s hard not to see it as them jumping on the national bandwagon,” said Equality Ohio policy director Maria Bruno.
Lawmakers want new social studies guidelines
Lawmakers also continued to debate whether to rewrite Ohio’s state standards for social studies.
“I’m very concerned that we have a generation of younger people who don’t know the basics,” said Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport. “I think the current standards are pretty vague.”
He wants to rewrite them using the American Birthright standards, which were developed by a conservative group, and promote Western history lessons over skills like civic engagement.
Rep. Sean Brennan, D-Parma, said districts should decide whether to use certain documents or discuss certain views. And he worried that Bill 103 would teach students a whitewashed view of history.
Craft brewers want to change Ohio’s rules
Craft beer has taken off in Ohio, and the makers of your favorite beers say the law needs to catch up with their industry.
They are asking lawmakers to change Ohio’s franchise law that governs their contracts with distributors (the companies that put their beers on store shelves). The current code states that such contracts can only be broken by bankruptcy or for “just cause.” Brewers say this is too restrictive and gives distributors too much power.
“In any other business, you’d go and say, ‘Hey, I want to find an alternative logistics company to help me do this.’ But I’m not allowed to. It’s impossible right now with the way state law is written ” said John Haggerty, co-founder of Warped Wing Brewing Company in Dayton.
But wholesalers say the Ohio law is fair because those “just causes” are ruled out by both parties before a contract is signed.
The legal fight over a school survey
Ohio Auditor Keith Faber asked the state’s public school districts to complete a survey this week detailing how much they have spent on litigation challenging state laws.
Faber’s office says those are public records and the districts don’t disagree. But they say the timing of that request, which came as subpoenas were being issued in his lawsuit against the state, made it look like witness intimidation.
Vouchers Hurt Ohio, the group that is asking a judge to decide whether the state’s voucher laws are constitutional, threatened to file contempt charges if the poll was not overturned.
Faber’s office said they did nothing wrong and had no plans to go back.
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USA TODAY Network’s Ohio bureau serves The Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.