Toledo Blade: Statehouse showdown unfolds

December 12, 2003


COLUMBUS - Ohio lawmakers snubbed Gov. Bob Taft twice this week, setting up potential veto overrides on bills allowing residents to carry concealed handguns and challenging his authority to close mental retardation centers.

As the Ohio House and Senate prepared to leave town for the year late last night, they openly defied the second-term Republican governor on the gun issue, sending him a bill they know he will veto.

The Senate also stripped language the governor had sought in an unrelated House bill to crack down on abuses in mental retardation and developmental disability centers.

A similar bill recently reached the governor’s desk, but it also included language that would undermine his authority to close such centers.

He plans to veto the retardation and developmental bill already on his desk, even though it contains protections he likes.

"The legislators put in the bill a restriction on the governor’s ability to balance the budget," said Taft spokesman Orest Holubec.

"The restriction would impede the progress made in phasing out two developmental centers [near Springfield and Wooster]."

No Ohio gubernatorial veto has been overridden in 20 years.

House Speaker Larry Householder (R., Glenford) said he has the votes to override Mr. Taft’s veto of the gun bill.

The 99-member chamber needs 60 votes for an override. The bill passed the chamber 69-27 across party lines.

"We feel pretty seriously about this bill, and I don’t know that we will lose any votes if we come up for an override," he said.

It appears less likely the Senate could do the same. The 33-member chamber needs 20 votes to override.

The bill passed the chamber by a commanding 25-8, but some GOP senators have expressed reluctance in caucus about overriding their governor.

"President [Doug] White doesn’t think we have the votes to override, but he hasn’t taken an official caucus vote," said spokesman Maggie Mitchell.

Senate leadership had agreed with Mr. Taft’s last-minute attempts to resolve the stalemate over whether the list of permits issued under a concealed-carry law would be public record. The House had rejected his proposal.

State Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D., Cleveland), a U.S. Senate candidate, will visit Toledo today as part of trip designed to build support for the governor’s veto position. "What this bill does is say that people get to conceal that weapon and take away my wife’s right to decide whether she wants my son playing around somebody carrying a loaded weapon," he said.

To be eligible to receive a permit to carry a hidden handgun, an applicant must be at least 21 years old, have lived in Ohio at least 45 days, complete a 12-hour firearm training course, and pass criminal and mental health background checks.

"Ohio is about to finally join the 44 states who have proven this is sound public policy," said Jeff Garvis, president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry. "Recently, the FBI reported that, for the first time, Michigan’s per capita crime rate fell below Ohio’s in the wake of passage of their concealed carry law."

Click here to read the story in the Toledo Blade.

Related Stories: Nov. 27: Sen. White's latest survey reveals ''ability to override a veto'' on HB12

Legislature finally ready to override Taft veto - but on HB12?

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