COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – For nearly five months, the amusement ride safety bill known as Tyler’s Law has been considered by the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
In July 2017, a deadly ride accident at the Ohio State Fair took the life of 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell.
The event inspired what is known as Tyler’s Law, a bill that would make several changes to how amusement rides are inspected and the kinds of communication that would need to occur between the owners and operators of those rides and the state.
It is the second time the bill has been before lawmakers. Last General Assembly, it was introduced in the second half of the two-year assembly and failed to be completed before time ran out at the end of December.
This time around, the bill has greater support. A change in administration in the governor’s office has resulted in a new director of the department of agriculture, Dorothy Pelanda.
Pelanda was a state representative last General Assembly and was familiar with that iteration of the bill.
Working with the bill’s sponsors, Pelanda helped mold the legislation into something her department could get behind.
With this newfound support, the bill sailed through the House committee relatively easily.
A couple of last-minute amendments were made to the bill Tuesday before the committee voted to report the bill favorably to the entire chamber.
In attendance were Tyler Jarrell’s mother, Amber Duffield; his girlfriend, Keziah Lewis; and her mother, Clarissa Williams.
Their reaction to the committee vote was a collective breath of relief. Williams looked skyward as if in acknowledgment.
The trio was elated by the vote, but understands it is the first of many that still need to be held.
Not only with the bill having to get through the entire House Chamber on a floor vote, currently scheduled for Wednesday, it will then have to repeat the entire process in the Senate.
The bill currently carries an emergency clause because the sponsors want the bill to go into effect immediately after it is signed by the governor, if it gets that far.
The goal is to have that happen before the Ohio State Fair opens near the end of July.
In order for that to happen, the Senate would have to make Tyler’s Law one of its priorities going into the final month before the legislative summer break.
Typically, in the first year of the two-year assembly, lawmaker wrap-up work on the State Operating Budget and head back to their districts for the summer, leaving bills to sit in Columbus until they return in the fall.
Right now, the Senate is elbow deep in dealing with the State Operating Budget, which can be an arduous task trying to find ways to pay for programs and services that cost more than the state has to spend.
On top of that, the Ohio House of Representatives just sent the Senate the Ohio Clean Air Act, which also carries a time-sensitive element in that there have been threats of closing two nuclear power plants and the loss of 1,400 jobs.
If passed as is, the Ohio Clean Air Act would act as a bailout for those two plants.
It saw support from Governor Mike DeWine who, according to some Republican representatives, was helping to whip votes before it was passed last week by reaching out to lawmakers asking for their support.
Adding Tyler’s Law to the mix ups the ante on an already packed plate of policy.
The Senate has been self-described as the deliberative chamber by Senate President Larry Obhof in the past.
On most things, they like to take their time.
We shall see how they handle these final weeks and what the Republicans choose to tackle, since they call the shots, as they lead up to a months-long break.