COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Mayors Alliance is urging state lawmakers to respect the Ohio constitution and home rule.

The alliance, made up of Republican, Democrat and Independent mayors, is rallying behind Columbus after several attempts by state officials to block the city’s restrictions on guns and flavored tobacco. One such effort is the Ohio General Assembly’s passage of a bill that bans local municipalities from limiting flavored tobacco days after Columbus City Council voted to do so.

“Local knows best — nobody is closer to the people of Ohio than local elected officials,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

The alliance is made up of mayors from across the state: Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron, Lancaster, Beavercreek, and so forth. On Friday, the alliance put forth its recommendations for the legislature moving into 2023 — which includes protecting home rule.

“The reality is the state government can’t and shouldn’t be trying to come into every community across Ohio and make decisions in place by local governments that those residents elected,” said David Scheffler, the mayor of Lancaster.

Home rule refers to the power of local governments and the ability to enact local ordinances.

The Ohio House and Senate passed House Bill 513 in its marathon session Wednesday, which would prevent local municipalities from banning flavored tobacco products.

Mayors of all political affiliations said this is a concern.

“This piece of legislation would undermine our ability to address the issues around smoking because those issues are only more exacerbated for Black Clevelanders across my city,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. “So it’s important that we as mayors have the tools, we need to address these public health matters at the local level.”

If allowed, the City of Columbus’ ban on flavored tobacco sales will start in 2024. But if DeWine signs H.B. 513, that ban is in jeopardy.

“The Governor and I don’t agree on every issue — but he has a very strong record of standing up for kids and he’s had the guts to take on big tobacco before, and we hope that he’ll do it again,” said Ginther.

The Ohio Mayors Alliance also shared other recommendations for statewide legislators for 2023:

  • A State commission to preserve local control and foster statewide collaboration
  • Measures to improve public safety and reduce gun violence
  • Monitoring the impacts of remote learning and protecting the fiscal health of cities
  • Improving state and local revenue sharing and targeted grants programs and
  • Promoting bipartisanship, civic learning, and public service

You can read the Ohio Mayors Alliance’s 2022 report here.