Breakthrough: Senate Conferees Named!!

For over a week, Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been hearing from Senators that President White was telling them he had decided to appoint conferees to a committee on House Bill 12. That news became even more concrete when Senator Lynn Wachtmann appeared on a live television panel show with OFCC's Chad Baus last Thursday, and announced in his opening remarks that he had been told same.

OFCC is committed to dealing with facts rather than rumors, and because saying conferees would be appointed and actually having them appointed are two very different things, we elected not to share news of this potential breakthrough until confirmation was available.

Yesterday, the communications director for the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus, Maggie Mitchell, began notifying media that Senator White was moving to appoint conferees. Stories about this breakthrough are expected to begin appearing in newspapers today.

OFCC has learned that Sen. White plans to make an unusual move - he will name himself to the committee, along with Sen. Nein (R-Middletown) and Sen. Dann (D-Liberty).

Speaker Householder named his conferees on back June 18 - Reps. Aslanides (Coshocton) and Bob Latta, (Bowling Green) will be the House Republicans, and Charlie Wilson (Bridgeport) in the House's Democrat seat. All three representatives were 2002 OFCC PAC enforsees.

UPDATE: Speaker Householder has replaced Rep. Wilson with Rep. Lance Mason (Cuyahoga Co.) on the Committee.

Mitchell's reasoning for her boss to name himself as a conferee is to "help move things along." We hope that truly is his intent, and not to work as an agent for Gov. Taft.

There was no indication from White's office as to why Senator Austria was not named to the committee by White instead of himself - Austria chaired the Criminal Justice Committee, which heard hours and hours of testimony from proponents of concealed carry reform, and accepted hundreds of pages of testimony in writing.

We hope the reason Austria was not chosen by White it is NOT because of his words at a March 2003 US Sportsmen Alliance legislative reception:

"The Senate is expecting to act quickly. We want to have a bill that can become law and not die in a conference committee..."

The only conferee from the Senate side who sat on the CJC and heard all the testimony is Senator Marc Dann. Sen. Dann, is a strong supporter of concealed carry reform, and has repeatedly and publicly stated he would have supported House Bill 12 as written by the House (more than many Senate Republicans have ever been willing to say).

When speaking at that same US Sportsmen Alliance legislative reception last March, Sen. White said:

"I am a strong proponent of the right to carry. I do not own a gun. I served in Uncle Sam’s Army where I used a sidearm and the M-14. I understand the proper use of a firearm and the power of a firearm. I absolutely and totally, to the bottom of my soul, understand the rights of law-abiding citizens. I do not care how big a gun is or how fast it will fire; if it is in the hands of a law-abiding citizen it does not intimidate me. I cannot understand those in our society who are intimidated by law-abiding citizens."

In April, White told Gongwer News Service that his chamber will not be looking for guidance from Governor Bob Taft as it begins consideration of a measure (HB 12) authorizing, in most respects, carrying concealed weapons. Rather, he said it will approve the version it deems most appropriate and let Mr. Taft determine whether it should be vetoed.

Senator White said he expects the Senate to deal with the bill expeditiously. "We'll do what we have to do" to get it out of the Senate, he said. "Our focus is not now with the governor." Without identifying the provisions, Senator White noted that his caucus doesn't need all the language it sought on last session's version of the bill, which died in the Senate.

And in August, Sen. White told Gongwer he hopes an agreement can be reached on House Bill 12 "because I want a bill."

Whatever his reasons for naming himself as a conferee, if Senate President Doug White sticks to his word while acting as a conferee, he will be applauded.

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