SIGNED: General Assembly's first attempt at Media Access Loophole fix

Taft concern for Home Rule evaporates; HB9 signed into law

By Chad D. Baus

In a surprisingly brief article (especially given how hard the media has pushed for this bill for the past two years), the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Governor Taft has signed House Bill 9 into law.

From the story:

Substitute House Bill 9 requires that all public officials or their designees attend training programs and seminars about Ohio's public records law.

Additionally, all elected offices must adopt a public records policy and provide an explanation when a request for public records is denied.

...Another provision in the legislation allows journalists to view concealed-weapon permits granted by county sheriffs, but prohibits law enforcement officials from making photocopies of the records for reporters.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Taft said "I am pleased to sign House Bill 9, which will make state and local government officials more accountable, and I appreciate the work of the Ohio General Assembly for passing this important piece of legislation."

As Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson pointed out recently, media support for, and Taft's signing of, this legislation provides still more proof that opposition to the statewide preemption of local gun laws over feigned home rule concerns was in actuality nothing more than a way for anti-gunners to cloak their true motives.

The following language will become law when House Bill 9 takes effect:

A journalist, on or after April 8, 2004, may submit to a sheriff a signed, written request to view the name, county of residence, and date of birth of each person to whom the sheriff has issued a license or replacement license to carry a concealed handgun, renewed a license to carry a concealed handgun, or issued a temporary emergency license or replacement temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun under section 2923.125 or 2923.1213 of the Revised Code, or a signed, written request to view the name, county of residence, and date of birth of each person for whom the sheriff has suspended or revoked a license to carry a concealed handgun or a temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun under section 2923.128 of the Revised Code. The request shall include the journalist's name and title, shall include the name and address of the journalist's employer, and shall state that disclosure of the information sought would be in the public interest. If a journalist submits a signed, written request to the sheriff to view the information described in this division, the sheriff shall grant the journalist's request. The journalist shall not copy the name, county of residence, or date of birth of each person to or for whom the sheriff has issued, suspended, or revoked a license described in this division.

Passage of this bill marks the first attempt by the General Assembly to clarify its intent in giving journalists access to the records. When it becomes law, the burden will be, as it has always been, on the media to honor the will of the General Assembly, and to prove they want the information only for the purposes they originally claimed (verifying training and background checks were being properly conducted), and not as a means of gaining access to foster a wholesale publishing of the list.

I won't hold my breath.

Related Story: Cleveland CHL-holder defends lives; Plain Dealer mum

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