Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

Ohio Senate passes scaled down 'stand your ground' legislation, 'Heartbeat Bill' stalls

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- Two controversial bills struggled to maintain momentum at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday.

Supporters of the Stand Your Ground and Heartbeat Abortion bills expected them to be voted out of the Senate today so there would be plenty of time to address any vetoes handed down on the legislation by the Governor.

However, by the end of the day what those supporters wanted and what they got were two very different things.

House Bill 228, also known as the Stand Your Ground Bill and the Duty to Retreat Bill; would have eliminated a person’s duty to retreat when faced with having to use self-defense.

Thursday, the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee amended the bill and removed that elimination effectively neutering that portion of the bill.

Additionally, Chairman Sen. Bill Coley II wanted to add clarification for when people can use deadly force, using the three pillars he described to us yesterday, but he couldn’t get the support he was looking for.

Several other changes to the bill were made but the other major thrust of the bill, to shift the burden of proof from a defendant choosing to use the affirmative defense of self-defense to the prosecution and elevating that burden from something that has to be shown to be more likely than not to something that needs to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I think the rolling stones would be happy,” said Coley. “Everybody’s getting what they need and it’s a better bill as a result, but no one’s getting everything they want.

Coley didn’t feel like he got what he wanted and promised to continue to push for clarification to when someone is authorized to use deadly force in self-defense.

Coley wasn’t alone in his disappointment, gun rights advocates and opponents shared a level of defeat today.

“I guarantee you the gun folks didn’t get everything what they wanted,” said Coley.

Ohio Gun Owners, one of those gun rights advocacy groups, says those who are blockading the efforts need to go.

“Gun owners need to be effective at election time in order for this long term climate to change here in the statehouse,” said Chris Dorr, the director of Ohio Gun Owners.

Meanwhile, groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were only partially mollified.

“Are we happy? Yeah, half happy, not fully happy.” said Richele O’Connor with the group. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Meanwhile, just down the hall the Heartbeat Abortion Bill was scheduled to have a potential vote in committee but did not get that vote as expected.

The bill bans abortions after six weeks and it currently has no exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnancy is not viable. Doctors say they cannot test for viability before 10 weeks.

The committee chair felt more work needed to be done on the bill and made the commitment to do so in the near future.

“Although we have this temporary victory today, we will most certainly be continuing to fight this and all the other unconstitutional abortion restrictions that are still pending in the legislature,” said Jaime Miracle, deputy director NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

House Bill 228 is currently being heard on the floor of the Senate with a vote on it imminent.

We will continue to follow developments to this situation and update this story as they become available.


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