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Ohio's Budget Bill Includes An Amendment Critics Say Is Aimed at Quelling Dissent Over Parks

State Rep. John Boccieri says the amendment runs counter to the constitutional rights of people to petition their government for redress of grievances.
State Rep. John Boccieri says the amendment runs counter to the constitutional rights of people to petition their government for redress of grievances.

Update May 2, 2017 9:30 a.m.: The amendment is being stripped out of the budget bill.

Ohio’s budget is a step closer to a vote.  It came out of the House Finance Committee today. But it still contains an amendment that is stirring opposition.  

State Rep. John Boccieri says the amendment runs counter to the constitutional rights of people to petition their government for redress of grievances.
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
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State Rep. John Boccieri says the amendment runs counter to the constitutional rights of people to petition their government for redress of grievances.

The amendment says probate judges, who have authority over local park districts, can “impose duties or restrictions on a person or party who interferes with the park district's purposes, and tax the cost of proceedings as court costs to be assessed by the court in its discretion.” 

State Rep. John Boccieri of northeast Ohio’s 59th House District is an opponent.

“This is about quelling dissent of outside, third-party groups, and the basic rights of citizens to petition their government. And whether it’s a park board, the state Legislature or the United States Congress, citizens retain that right.”

Backers of the measure maintain it just specifies in written state law what the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled about the park oversight authority of probate courts.

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