– by Mike Newbern, Chairman, Legislative Affairs Committee
We all want informed voters. I know I personally lament the idea of someone voting in an election without sufficient knowledge. As the chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio’s (RLCOH) Legislative Affairs Committee, I take pride in knowing that am part of a team of folks that work to provide information to voters.
We provide what I consider to be very valuable information — an assessment of a sitting legislator’s record on liberty issues.
I think it’s important for voters to understand how we arrive at these ratings. It’s not an arbitrary process. In fact, we put considerable amount of effort in the development of our system and working it.
It all centers around our position on legislation. How do members of the general assembly work to introduce bills that restore our party’s founding principles? And, how do they vote on legislation?
We put bills into three general categories: budget, size and scope of government, and restoration/preservation of liberty. We issue positions supporting a “yes” vote on legislation that decreases our government’s budget, limits or reduces the size and scope of the government, or restores/preserves individual liberty. Conversely, we issue a position supporting a “no” vote on bills that do the opposite.
Some bills are cut and dried. House Bill 407, for example, is one such strightforward bill. Our debate on this bill was short. The committee voted unanimously to issue a “yes” position on a bill we categorize as an individual liberty issue. The bill requires law enforcement agencies who use body cameras to adopt a written policy on their use and make this policy publically available.
Some bills, however, aren’t so simple. Senate Bill 254 is one of the bills that presented a significant challenge for us. We labored over this bill for more than one meeting, considering several factors before coming to a decision.
I’d like to share that process specific on SB254 with you because it demonstrates how the RLCOH is providing a service for liberty voters that doesn’t exist elsewhere .
SB254, in short, would require abortion providers to inform recipients of the waste disposal methods available to them and would also require that they make certain methods available.
First, we needed to understand its impact on our state’s budget. Does it change how government funds are utilized? Does it increase or decrease government liability? Since we could not find how it did either of those, we determined the budgetary impact of the bill was negligible.
We also wanted to know how it impacted the size and scope of the government. While violation of this law does impose first degree misdemeanor as punishment, it did not establish any new agency or place the burden of enforcement on the government. Therefore, we did not see any impact on the size and scope of the government.
Lastly, did it impact individual liberty, the right that we all should enjoy to do with our property and live our lives as we choose so long as we are not violating that very right others also enjoy? The purpose of this bill is to require that abortion providers inform recipients of the options available to them. Furthermore, it requires the provider pay the cost of the disposal. It became very clear to us that this piece of legislation does indeed change how one chooses to manage his or her property and business affairs.
We also needed to understand what impact this bill would have on currently available disposal methods. The two methods addressed in the legislation are interment (the burial or entombment of fetal remains) and cremation. SB254 did nothing to impact the legality of those two methods. However, it did restrict disposal to those two methods.
Now, we must decide on our position. Do we support a “yes” or “no” vote on this bill? This part wasn’t as easy. Even in our small committee, we are made up of folks from many sides of the debate covering a wide spectrum of opinions and values. We are human like everyone else and feel the pull of our feelings on abortion and other controversial issues.
There is, however, one opinion we share — so long as two parties who interact with each other cause the other party no harm, the government only exists to resolve contract disputes.
Is an abortion provider harming the recipient by not providing information on the methods available for disposal? Is an abortion provider harming the recipient by disposing of the fetal remains in a manner consistent with other methods currently in practice for disposal of bio-waste? Is an abortion provider harming the recipient by not offering internment or cremation as methods of disposal?
The short answer is “no.”
To better understand, we discussed this issue in terms of a bakery. Is a bakery harming its customers by not informing them while chocolate donuts are not on display in the counter that they are actually baking and will be available shortly? Is a bakery harming its customers by not offering chocolate at all? Should a bakery be required to offer more costly chocolate donuts at its expense, which it will ultimately pass on to all customers regardless of the flavor they choose?
Once again, the short answer is “no.” If a customer wants chocolate donuts and the bakery doesn’t display them, it’s the responsibility of the customer to inquire. Should the bakery not offer chocolate donuts, the customer is free to leave and find one that does. If a bakery decides not to offer chocolate donuts to its customers, its customer base will respond accordingly by rewarding the bakery with business or taking its business elsewhere.
It is the responsibility of an abortion recipient to understand the disposal methods available and make an informed provider choice. If a recipient desires a specific method of disposal and the provider is willing to accommodate that desire, then it is the right of the recipient and the provider to enter into a contract as such. This bill places the burden of information on the provider, mandates that the provider offer internment and cremation as disposal methods, and limits the available disposal methods to internment and cremation.
We could support a bill limited in scope to cover only facilities receiving government funding to provide abortion services. Since we are all part owners in the government, we do have the authority to determine how its money is spent. However, this bill offers no differentiation between private entities receiving no government funding and fully funded public health facilities.
Therefore, we must issue a “no vote” position on Senate Bill 254 and urge members of the general assembly to vote accordingly.
Why take so much time to explain our thought process on this single bill? The voters of Ohio need to understand the great lengths the RLCOH take to provide an incredible service not seen anywhere else. You can see the end result of all our bill positions and how legislators rank on the Ohio Liberty Index at RLCOH.org/oh-legislators.