Senate passes concealed-carry expansion bill in last actions

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks, concealed weapons would be permitted in more places including day cares and puppy mills would be outlawed under bills that lawmakers considered or approved Wednesday in the final days of their two-year session.

The 20-week ban would be added to legislation already on its way to Republican Gov. John Kasich that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

A House committee voted Wednesday night to pass the 20-week ban, which now heads to the full House for consideration Thursday.

That follows House approval Tuesday night of the so-called heartbeat bill, clearing the way for what would be one of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions.

Also Wednesday:

— The Ohio House approved legislation prohibiting local municipalities from setting minimum wage levels above the state bar of $8.10 an hour.

Republican backers say a patchwork of minimum wage laws would create an uncertain business environment that could hurt current companies and drive those considering Ohio to look at other states. Democratic opponents say local communities should be allowed to set higher minimum wages to help workers.

The minimum wage measure was approved as part of a bigger bill that would override local ordinances that regulate pet stores, requiring them to purchase animals from shelters and rescue groups as opposed to buying them from high-volume breeders, which critics say are often puppy mills that treat animals poorly. The proposal also includes bans on bestiality and a crackdown on cockfighting and “bearbaiting.”

— The Senate approved a bill late Wednesday night that would expand the state’s concealed-weapons law to allow guns in places such as colleges and day cares and on private aircraft.

The bill still permits those places to ban guns if they want. It would keep a ban on concealed weapons in government buildings, unless an agency decides to allow them. The bill now goes to the House for a final vote Thursday before heading to Kasich for consideration.

Still before Senate lawmakers is a bill making compliance with the state’s renewable-energy mandates optional for the next three years. Critics of the bill, including renewable-energy companies and environmental advocates, call the optional mandates a freeze in another form.