Ohio House codifies TikTok ban, bail provisions first offered by Senate

House legislation prohibiting TikTok on government devices came from an executive order and a needed bail fix writes court rules into state law

By: - June 15, 2023 4:50 am

Ohio House Speaker Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

While Ohio House lawmakers decided to press pause on the most contentious proposal up for a floor vote — a bill that would force outing of LGBTQ+ K-12 students — they signed off Wednesday on a proposal codifying court rules for setting bail and another banning TikTok from government devises.

In both cases, lawmakers stepped in to rubber stamp what another branch of government had already done. The first was an approval and extension of that action. In the other, it was because lawmakers blew a hole through a longstanding authority.

Bail fix

The House signed off on a proposal codifying court rules for setting bail. The proposal became necessary because of a cash bail constitutional amendment approved last year.

That amendment overturned a state supreme court decision prohibiting consideration of public safety when setting the cash amount of bail. But the ballot measure — proposed by the general assembly — also took away the court’s ability to set bail procedures through rule.

That change, Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, stressed, presents an urgent risk to the broader court system.

“The Ohio Supreme Court has elected, because of the passage of Issue 1 last fall, to allow pretrial detention and release factors to be determined by the General Assembly,” Swearingen explained. “We need to do this before July so that we have those in place for the guidance of our criminal justice system.”

The state Supreme Court sets procedures through rules each year. But in light of Issue 1, the justices decided to repeal the rule governing bail. Without copy-pasting those provisions into state law, and doing so as an emergency measure, courts would have no standards for setting the terms of pretrial release.

After Swearingen finished his pitch, co-sponsor Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, chimed in. “What he said,” Seitz implored. “Please vote yes.”

The House passed its version of the measure which is virtually identical to a Senate version which passed easily earlier this month.


House lawmakers also approved legislation prohibiting the use of TikTok and other Chinese-owned applications on government devices. The proposal codifies an executive order Gov. Mike DeWine issued earlier this year. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, described the measure as “a resounding message” and “a bold stance.” But she also stressed the legislation’s limits.

“I would like to reiterate this bill does not ban TikTok for the public use,” Schmidt said. “You want to use TikTok? Go ahead.”

“Our focus is safeguarding our state’s private information,” she continued, “by placing a barrier against foreign interference. We cannot and will not allow access to our data to fall in the hands of foreign actors.”

Pointing to similar restrictions approved by President Joe Biden at the federal level, Schmidt argued “the urgency of this matter transcends party lines.”

But Rep. Munira Abdullahi, D-Columbus, pushed back, describing the measure as “hasty” and “incomplete.” She stressed her opposition wasn’t toward the ends, but rather the means.

“We have recommended amendments that go off of the State Department’s list, that is ongoing, of foreign adversaries, of countries that sponsor terrorism, that are actually dangerous to our country,” Abdullahi argued. “But this bill only mentions one country.”

She argued that narrow focus doesn’t adequately address the threat and could prove counterproductive.

“I fear this current language,” Abdullahi continued, “by targeting a specific country or region, will accomplish further perpetuating the US’s long history of xenophobia, rather than protecting sensitive US data, which is still a priority for all of us, no matter the party lines.”

Rep. Swearingen, a co-sponsor of both measures, insisted the focus on China makes sense. He pointed to that country’s data privacy laws which give government officials extensive access to user information.

The proposal passed easily, and both legislative chambers have included similar provisions in their budget proposals.

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.


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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.