Ohio lawmakers consider abortion ban, concealed weapons bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Bills that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and permit concealed weapons in more places are up for consideration by the Legislature as it wrapped up its two-year session Thursday.

The House considered the 20-week abortion ban beginning Thursday afternoon. The 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. That so-called heartbeat bill could give Ohio one of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions.

The House also planned to vote Thursday on legislation to expand Ohio’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. The Senate approved that bill Wednesday night.

Among other action before the Legislature Thursday and late Wednesday:

—The Ohio Senate approved a bill Thursday aimed at making it harder for authorities to seize assets like cash or vehicles if the owners aren’t involved in criminal activity. At issue are state forfeiture laws that are often used to seize assets that were originally taken by police during crime investigations but are sometimes the property of innocent third parties.

— Lawmakers considered a bill that would make concealed weapons permit holders a protected class under employment discrimination law. Gun-rights advocates back the legislation allowing permit holders who keep guns locked in their vehicles the same type of protections the Ohio Civil Rights Act provides against race, gender, age or religious discrimination, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/2h0kLf9 ).

Supporters say permit holders should be allowed to keep their guns in cars, which are private property, regardless of the location of the vehicle. Business groups including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association oppose the bill.

— Lawmakers approved legislation proposed by Gov. John Kasich as part of efforts to battle Ohio’s addictions epidemic. The bill that got final House and Senate Wednesday requires thousands of pharmacy technicians to be registered by the state.

Other measures would allow more methadone clinics and permit the state pharmacy board to license sole medical practitioners.

The bill also expands the use of the anti-overdose drug naloxone, sold as Narcan, to schools, homeless shelters, halfway houses and treatment centers.

— Also Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers passed legislation that could provide more benefits for firefighters who get cancer as a presumed result of their work. The measure addresses how causes of such cancer are viewed when it comes to getting benefits through workers’ compensation and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund. Under the bill, when firefighters develop cancer under certain circumstances, it would be presumed to be a result of their occupation. That could help them access more benefits.