Ohio House considers sexual victim privacy bill


By Craig Kelly - ckelly@limanews.com



COLUMBUS — State legislators are considering a bill aimed at helping victims of sexual assault.

Ohio House of Representatives

On Thursday, Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, introduced legislation to increase privacy for victims of sexual crimes in the state’s public records law. The Victims Privacy and Protection Act would exempt photographs, videos and digital media that depict a victim at the time of the offense from the definition of public record, along with any release that would violate any expectation of bodily privacy.

The bill is in response to a 2016 Ohio Supreme Court case that ruled that digital media violating bodily privacy is available as a public record, meaning that a nude photo of a victim could be released to the public.

“I am proud to introduce the Victims Privacy and Protection Act, along with the support of nearly 70 of my colleagues,” said Retherford. “When I was informed of the possibility of these victims of sexually oriented crimes having their images of an embarrassing nature be subject to public records request, I immediately started to work to find a fix. I believe this bill is an appropriate balance of protecting victims while not hampering our very strong transparency laws. We should recognize the need to prevent re-victimizing these individuals and work to fix this loophole.”

The bill will be referred to a House committee for consideration.

The House passed a bill Thursday to decrease the number of Ohio residents with suspended driver’s licenses. House Bill 336 is aimed at helping indigent Ohioans who cannot pay the reinstatement fee or fines accrued during suspensions by establishing a temporary six-month debt reduction and waiver program for eligible recipients. To be eligible, a license suspension must be in effect for at least 18 months, the individual must be indigent and that person must have completed all other court-ordered sanctions other than paying the reinstatement fee.

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green: On Thursday, Latta voted to pass two terrorism-related pieces of legislation: the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act and the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act. These two bills would increase transparency and make all of the Iranian regime’s funding sources public, according to Latta.

“Iran is the largest state sponsor of terror, and the Iranian regime has a destabilizing effect on the Middle East,” said Latta. “It’s essential we make clear that financially supporting the bad behavior of the Iranian government will not be tolerated. While the Trump Administration reviews the Iran deal, these two pieces of bipartisan legislation will hold the ayatollahs accountable and protect U.S. financial institutions by shining a light on the regime’s financial backing.”

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have called for the passage of Brown’s Butch Lewis Act to guarantee that pensions for several Ohio unions would be paid. The bill would guarantee payment while not cutting retiree benefits, according to Brown.

“These retirees sacrificed pay raises and benefits so that when they retired, they could do so with dignity,” he said. “They earned every dollar of their retirement, and out of no fault of their own, the money they earned is at risk. They held up their end of the bargain and it’s time Congress held up ours and ensure they can keep what they’ve earned.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: Portman, along with Sen. Maria Cantwell, R-Washington, introduced the Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources and Care (EMPOWER Care) Act to help Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term services in their communities while also saving taxpayer dollars.

The bill would both renew and expand the Money Follows the Person Demonstration Program, which promotes community-based care and services for Medicaid beneficiaries. It also provides flexibility and funding for states to help those beneficiaries, particularly the elderly and disabled, in transitioning from institutional to home-based care.

“Money Follows the Person has provided over 10,000 Ohioans with the opportunity receive the care that they need in their homes and communities, and I will continue to fight to ensure that all Ohioans can continue to have a choice in where they seek long-term care support,” Portman said.

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By Craig Kelly

ckelly@limanews.com

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.

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