What bills have representatives tabled in 2021?

Hot topics like infrastructure and COVID-19 have dominated the discourse in Washington this year, and Ohio officials have spoken loud and clear about their feelings about them.

But amid the fighting, members of the Congressional delegation pushed for legislation to help veterans, varsity athletes and more.

Democratic Representative Tim Ryan de Warren, who is also a candidate for the Senate, introduced 24 bills in 2021 – the most in Buckeye state. Rep. Bob Latta, a Republican from Bowling Green, followed closely behind with 21.

No proposal from the current delegation has yet been enacted, but they illustrate the issues considered important by those elected by Ohioans to serve them.

Here is an overview of some of the measures.

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The only bill introduced this year by Representative Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, seeks to amend Section 230, a internet communication law which allows websites to moderate content and protects them from legal action regarding user posting.

Under Jordanian law, which he first proposed in 2020, providers could be held liable for filtering or blocking content unless it violates the terms of service or is obscene, illegal, violent or incites terrorism and extremism. It also calls on suppliers to make their terms of service public and prohibits them from restricting material “on deceptive grounds”.

The bill is a response to criticism from Jordan and other conservatives that companies like Facebook and Twitter are unfairly targeting Republicans and cannot be held accountable under current law.

Teaching Black History

Representative Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, presented legislation by early 2021, that would require colleges, libraries, and museums to teach black history in order to be eligible for certain grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Black history would also be included in the tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“Since before its founding, the United States of America has benefited and been strengthened by the vital role African Americans have played in our country’s history and contribution to the world,” the bill says.

Helping college athletes get paid

A bill from Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River – who played wide receiver for Ohio State University – would be allow varsity athletes to benefit from their own name, image or likeness with endorsements and other offers.

Universities and sports organizations could only ban contracts with tobacco and alcohol companies, casinos, adult entertainment companies, and sellers of marijuana and other controlled substances. Schools could also prohibit athletes from wearing sponsored clothing at a match or other university-sponsored sporting event.

The bill reflects a law signed earlier this year by Governor Mike DeWine. The NCAA also adopted its own rules on the name, image and likeness months after Gonzalez introduced his bill.

Streamlining Services to Veterans

The legislation led by Representative Brad Wenstrup, R-Columbia Tusculum, aims to streamline services to veterans by creating the Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration. The new silo within the Department of Veterans Affairs would focus on mortgage, employment, education and civilian transition programs.

The bill was passed by the House in May and awaits Senate action. Wenstrup has been pushing for the measure in several sessions.

Protect children in hot cars

Ryan unveiled a bill that would require cars adopt safety systems to reduce the number of deaths of children left alone in hot vehicles. The mechanism should detect an unattended occupant and emit visual and auditory signals to alert people inside and outside the car.

The bill would also allow the secretary of transportation to consider a secondary warning indicating the location of the car and alerting emergency responders and operators who are not near the car.

To learn more about what your representative is doing in Washington, visit congress.gov.

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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