H.B. 228 (Fix Burden of Proof/Concealed Carry Modernization) – The Legislative Road Ahead

H.B. 228 (Fix Burden of Proof/Concealed Carry Modernization), sponsored by Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) passed the full House on Wednesday, November 14, 2018.

Now what?

The bill moves to the Senate. The Senate Reference Committee will review the bill and assign it to a standing committee. This is likely to happen on November 27 or 28. Once assigned to a committee, the Chairman is charged with scheduling hearings and setting the agenda for his/her committee.

The normal process is three committee hearings. Generally, the first hearing is for sponsor testimony only. At that hearing, the bill sponsors testify and explain the bill to the committee. A second hearing normally provides the committee with the opportunity to hear proponent testimony, offered by people and groups that support the bill. At the third hearing, committee members typically open the floor to testimony from other parties, including opponents and any interested parties who wish to share their concerns, desires, and recommendations with committee members.

In our case, the process could be shortened because “companion legislation” in the form of S.B. 180, sponsored by Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) and Jay Hottinger (R-Newark), has already had multiple committee hearings in the Senate. "Companion legislation" is a term given to a bill with the same language as the original introduced in the opposite chamber. It is often done simply so other legislators can receive some credit for introducing/moving popular legislation, but it can also be very helpful in allowing legislation to be properly vetted in both chambers at the same time.

The Senate committee will then consider the testimony from all parties and is likely to make amendments to the bill. Those amendments may include adding new provisions, or deleting provisions that are currently in the bill. They may also clean up typos or confusing language that existed in the bill when it arrived in their committee. When the committee is satisfied they have a good bill, the Chairman schedules it for a vote.

Assuming the bill passes out of committee, it would then move back to the Reference Committee where it will hopefully be placed on the calendar for a vote before the full Senate. If there are any changes at all (even punctuation) the bill must then return to the House for a “concurrence vote.” Upon passage, the bill would become an “act” and be sent to the Governor for his signature.

If the Governor signs the legislation, it becomes law about 90 days later. If he vetoes the bill, it goes back to General Assembly, where both chambers would need a three-fifths (60%) vote to override the veto. That would require 60 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate.

Any bill that is not enacted by the end of session, December 31, 2018, officially dies, and the process must start completely over next year. Because of the Christmas season, for practical purposes the session is normally concluded by mid-December.

There are many steps needed to enact H.B. 228 into law and limited time to complete them. Expect opponents to do everything they can do delay the bill, because they understand that a delay of even a week will likely kill this legislation. Delay tactics are often qualified by stating they want to “better understand” or “review” or “make important improvements” or any other excuse to seem helpful – but make no mistake - anyone trying to delay this bill at this point is trying to kill it. This is the eighth year Representative Johnson has worked to fix the problems addressed in this legislation, and opponents have successfully killed it every prior time.

There will come a time in the coming weeks when we need support in the form of letters or phone calls or witnesses to testify. Please check www.Buckeyefirearms.org often, and sign up for our free newsletter to stay informed of the latest developments as we try to pass this excellent legislation.

Note: There are other procedural steps which I have left out, and other possible actions (like a conference committee) which are extremely unlikely to happen to this particular bill. For a flow chart and further information, see The Legislative Process here.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award," the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award," and the SAF's 2015 "Defender of Freedom Award."

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