Editorial: Lawmakers flash ‘shiny objects’ instead of doing real work


Sometimes the answer to a question comes down to shiny objects.

A shiny object can be a great distraction that might appear valuable but often is nothing but cheap glass that isn’t worth the cost.

The appeal of shiny objects helps explain the relentless, shameless pandering by Republican lawmakers who have put forth another pile of unnecessary bills – once again demonstrating that they are determined to waste valuable time and ignore issues that really affect Ohioans.

Take new eye-rolling bills from by Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, aimed at preventing the state or local governments from closing licensed firearm sellers during a statewide emergency declared by the governor.

It should come as no surprise that the bills are supported by the Buckeye Firearms Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Rifle Association, which is pushing similar legislation around the country.

It also should come as no surprise that the bills are big fat nothing burgers that address “problems” that don’t exist. They build up a straw man, huff and puff, knock him down and act like they’ve done something good for society.

No one is seriously trying to take anyone’s gun in Ohio, even if there is good reason to keep guns out of the wrong hands to protect the public.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican, did not restrict access to firearms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohioans couldn’t always find toilet paper or hand sanitizer last year, but they could find guns and ammo even though poll after poll still shows that most people support sensible gun control measures.

Ninety percent of Ohio voters who took part in a 2019 Quinnipiac Poll supported universal gun background checks.

Gun violence and gun sales rose here and nationwide in 2020. More than 110 million guns were sold in the U.S. in 2020, up from nearly 100 million in 2019, according to Small Arms Analytics.

The Schaffer and Wiggam bills come after the decidedly ill-equipped General Assembly gave itself the right to change or revoke the state’s public health orders and as lawmakers in the supposedly pro-business-rights Republican Party push bills that would control how business owners deal with the pandemic and vaccinations.

All of these bills are unnecessary. Some of them are dangerous and potentially deadly.

They include an effort to block vaccination requirements as a condition of returning to work or school and moves to require unvaccinated people to wear masks, be relegated to separate areas or face other punishments.

Under pending legislation, private and public employers would be barred from requiring vaccinations, and workers could not be fired for refusing them.

And there is a push to thwart the governor’s Vax-a-Million drawings program, which is prompting hesitant people to get vaccinated and helping us all in the effort to return to the normalcy lawmakers say they want.

Not every shiny object being passed around the Statehouse relates to the pandemic, but they are still shiny objects.

Two bills working their way through the legislature would ban transgender girls from joining female college and high school sports teams.

The issue is hot nationally, but the “need” for a fix is completely overblown. Transgender athletes are not storming locker rooms.

Setting the science aside, the Williams Institute at The University of California, Los Angeles says there are 1.4 million trans adults amid a U.S. population of nearly 330 million. Roughly 150,000 of 13- to 17-year-olds in the nation identify as trans.

At the same time, more than 1 million people in Ohio alone have contracted coronavirus, and nearly 20,000 of our fellow Ohioans died from it. Far too few of our maskless lawmakers jumped to address that very real public health crisis.

There is a long list of important issues lawmakers should be addressing that would help high school and college students as we emerge from the pandemic: school funding, rising tuition, teacher retention and the digital divide for starters.

Instead, GOP lawmakers have focused on trans kids and have joined the national fight against teaching critical race theory, which sees racism as a systematic issue.

It is easy to jump on bandwagons and rile up constituents with hyperbole and inflated talking points.

Addressing issues that will move the state forward takes imagination, courage, and leadership.

Lawmakers must throw out the shiny objects and get to work on matters that are truly important to Ohioans.

— Columbus Dispatch, May 28