Ohio lawmakers propose ban on city curfews, saying they ‘cater to criminals,’ hurt businesses
Ohio state lawmakers propose ban on city curfews, saying they ‘cater to criminals,’ hurt businesses. Photo by WEWS.
State lawmakers in Ohio have proposed a ban on curfews, leaving local governments feelings exasperated by a lack of options against the rise in gun violence.
Cities have implemented curfews for decades now in an attempt to curb crime or stop protests from taking place — most recently in Columbus.
After continuous shootings in the Short North, the capital’s entertainment district, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther requested that businesses close at midnight during the weekends. In an executive order, the mayor also decided that food trucks must close at midnight.
“The city is trying to respond the way that it can with the tools that it has,” said Keary McCarthy with the Ohio Mayors Alliance.
The temporary voluntary curfew is intended to make sure lives aren’t lost, according to McCarthy.
The Ohio Restaurant Association says some of their members have voiced concerns, meeting the ears of state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.).
“They need revenue; they need staff,” LaRe said. “This curfew is going to affect all of that.”
Curfews hurt businesses that are not responsible for criminal activity, the lawmaker added.
“It’s essentially like you’re catering to the criminals,” he said.
The curfews infringe on citizens’ right to gather, LaRe said. He also noted that rideshare drivers are concerned about making a living.
“If gun violence continues to plague entertainment districts like the Short North, there’s not going to be any customers left to go to those stores,” McCarthy responded.
LaRe and state Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) introduced a new bill that would stop local governments from implementing curfews, except in cases for minors or in response to a state of emergency.
“We have yet another piece of legislation that attempts to dictate what local governments can do to keep their communities safe,” McCarthy said. “And it does violate home rule.”
McCarthy said the curfews are needed because the lawmakers are close to passing House Bill 51, which would prevent cities from enforcing their own gun safety legislation.
So what should local governments do if they can’t put forward gun restrictions and they can’t use curfews?
“Getting back to the fundamental of community policing and supporting our law enforcement is really what I think is going to help fix this issue moving forward,” LaRe responded.
McCarthy explains municipalities’ funding has been slashed by the state government. Over the last decade, the local government fund, which is the largest state revenue sharing program that the state has with cities, counties and townships, has been cut in half, he said.
“When we see a pretty significant reduction in funding from the state, that affects public safety,” he added.
LaRe said he understands that municipalities are upset, but this legislation is necessary for the “safety and welfare of all the citizens.”
“When you’ve got a mayor that’s trying to pick winners and losers as far as our small businesses are concerned, that’s not right,” the Republican said.
Local and state government needs to work together to solve gun violence instead of tying the hands of municipalities, McCarthy said.
“It makes it really tough for local leaders to address the security concerns at hand,” he added.
This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
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