Ohio legislature supports bill strengthening penalties for abuse of pets


COLUMBUS (AP/WCMH)–The Ohio Legislature has lent its support to a bill that would stiffen penalties for abuse of pets and other companion animals.

The legislation would make it a fifth-degree felony to knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal. Such an act could include partially incapacitating an animal, causing it long-term pain, or depriving it of water, food and shelter.

The measure would apply to companion animals kept in homes and those in pet stores.

PDF: Ohio House Bill 60

Senate changes were approved on a 92-1 vote in the Ohio House, sending the bill to the governor.

The bill’s backers say research has shown links between mistreatment of animals and other types of offenses, including crimes that hurt people.

Here is a look at several other bills headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk:

Lead in drinking water 

Ohio lawmakers have signed off on a measure changing how the state and its cities deal with lead in drinking water.

The bill approved by a 23-10 vote of the state Senate Wednesday now goes to Kasich, whose office put the proposal forward.

One of the key parts of the proposal would force public water systems to alert residents within two days after lead is found at the tap.

The two-day notification calls for a much faster response than current federal rules that give water plants 60 days to notify all residents.

The proposal also includes a plan to help cities map out and remove lead pipes, and to work with schools on replacing drinking fountains and faucets that have lead parts.

Domestic violence confidentiality

Legislation that would shield the addresses of victims of domestic violence, stalking and other crimes from use by government agencies is headed to the governor.

The bill would let victims apply for a confidential address from Ohio’s secretary of state if they’re worried about attackers tracking them down. It unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The address could be used when registering to vote or for any business with a government entity, such as a school or public university. The secretary of state’s office would forward mail to the real address on a daily basis.

Victims of sexual assault and human trafficking could also apply.

The Ohio House approved an earlier version of the bill in January, but signed off on Senate changes late Wednesday.

Unborn Child Dignity Act

Ohio hospitals and providers must cremate or bury any aborted fetal remains under a proposal that has passed the state Senate.

Ohio currently requires providers to dispose of aborted fetuses “in a humane manner,” but that’s not further defined in law.

Backers of the proposal say the measure clarifies the vague rules and ensures the unborn are treated with dignity. Opponents of the idea have called it medically unnecessary and burdensome to women and abortion providers.

Under the bill, women who have abortions would be given the choice to decide whether their fetal remains should be cremated or buried. They would have to express their choice in writing.

Senators approved the bill on a 23-10 vote Wednesday. Similar legislation is pending in the House.

Online voter registration

Ohioans could register to vote online beginning next year under legislation headed to the governor’s desk.

The state Senate gave its final approval on Wednesday to House changes that pushed back the bill’s effective date until 2017, after the November presidential election.

A House committee also scrapped a provision allowing Ohioans to declare their political party affiliation when registering to vote or updating their addresses. Voters currently are considered affiliated with the party whose ballot they last cast in a primary.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has said the bill is long overdue and will benefit voters and taxpayers.

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