Plain Dealer overlooks HB9 in calls for Home Rule-inspired vetos

By Chad D. Baus

The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page is at it again, writing about legislation we have good reason to believe they've never read.

This time, in addition to even more blather about why having one set of rules in the State of Ohio for gun owners is a bad idea, they're whining about legislation which would regulate the use of privacy-invading cameras that are used to find drivers guilty of violating laws without due process.

From an editorial entitled "What home rule?":

Once upon a time, the state of Ohio sub scribed to an idea known as "home rule." It held that municipalities should be free to govern themselves and to address the everyday needs of their citizens. Obviously, cities and towns could not nullify state or national laws, but other powers and responsibilities were reserved for local government.

Home rule was considered so fundamental that in 1912, it was enshrined in Article 18 of the Ohio Constitution. For most of the next nine decades, some of its most vehement supporters were Republicans who zealously insisted that the best decisions were those made closest to the people affected by them.

As per usual for those who want to keep Ohioans unfamiliar with what the Constitution actually says, the editorial does not quote the actual wording of the Home Rule clause, which is based on the Ohio Constitution's Article XVIII: "Municipalities shall have authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations as are not in conflict with general laws."

But once again, the Home Rule Champions at the Plain Dealer have failed to mention that little pesky "not in conflict with general laws" provision. To them, it's as insignificant and problematic as the Bill of Rights Amendment that comes after, and protects, their precious First.

Again, from the editorial:

Restoring the traditional balance in Ohio law will require a Statehouse that truly trusts and respects local governments and the people who elect them. Incoming Gov. Ted Strickland needs to remember that urban voters contributed mightily to his landslide. And as he heads into retirement, Gov. Taft can help, too.

In fairness, Taft already has tried by vetoing the recent gun bill, only to be overturned by the lame-duck legislature. He should step up again by striking down the traffic cameras bill. Home rule has served Ohio well for 94 years, and a Taft veto can get it back on track.

Clearly, the Plain Dealer believes the state government should stay out of local affairs....that is, until it comes to public records, and a piece of legislation they and the Ohio Newspaper Association has been trying to get passed for nearly two years.

As Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson pointed out recently:

Nothing is more fundamental to local government operations than what papers government keeps, who sees these papers, when the papers are released, how they are released and for how much money. This is an area of home rule where local government power is absolute and cannot be infringed, unlike firearm laws. State-level public records laws are a clear infringement on home rule authority delegated to municipalities to the extent they dictated to municipalities how and what paper to keep and who they must give it to.

The law on this is clear - municipalities have an absolute home rule power with regard to local government operations and only limited home rule authority with respect to police powers. You simply cannot be against H.B. 347 on home rule grounds and simultaneously be in support of the public records bill.

Not, that is, unless you are the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

UPDATE: Plain Dealer Editorial: Actually, a decent records bill

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