COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Swatting is now one step closer to becoming a felony in Ohio. The Republican-sponsored House Bill 462 now moves on to the Senate after it passed 63-13 Wednesday.

The bill would make swatting a felony and garnered bipartisan support on the house floor.

“I think it’s a matter of public safety,” Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said. “People may not really realize the full implication of what they’re doing. So, with the prohibition in the law, I hope maybe that practice will stop.”

Swatting is when an individual makes a false call to get a large amount of armed law enforcement to a certain location. The bill would make that action a felony of the third degree. Also, in the bill, if swatting results in physical harm, it is a felony of the second degree.

Democratic Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) voted in favor of the bill but said there’s more work to be done in the Senate.

“It will be a more in-depth discussion of adding penalties, which is something we’ve looked at overall here in the state of Ohio,” she said.

Some of the bill’s opponents said the prohibition of swatting is already in the law, so an additional law will create confusion.

“I don’t think what they’re claiming actually exists in current law,” Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violent Township) said. “I think this takes the offense penalty and increases it to be more in line with, like, a bomb threat.”

“I think there’s always a patchwork of laws,” Cupp said. “So specifically dealing with this issue is a good idea because it’s very clear then what is prohibited.”

Russo said she thinks the intent behind the bill is good, but the concern is stacking of charges.

“Most of these individuals who commit these crimes are juveniles,” Russo said. “It might put some undo pressure to confess, maybe, to things they may or may not have done.”

The bill will now go through hearings in a Senate committee before moving to the floor for a vote.

Several other bills passed through the House Tuesday and will also now go to the Senate:

  • HB 456 would decriminalize fentanyl test strips. It passed 72-4.
  • HB 506 would Codify Office of Solicitor General; create 10th Amendment Center. It passed 53-23.
  • HB 593 would allow campaign funds to be used for childcare. This bill passed 55-23.

Senate Bill 249 passed through the House Tuesday 79-0. This bill would create a regulatory sandbox program for novel financial products and services. The bill now goes to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk to be signed into law.