Ohio lawmakers faced fierce blowback last winter over a bill that would escalate criminal charges on fossil fuel protesters and threaten religious organizations or nonprofits that support such demonstrations with crushing fines.
By then, the state Senate had already passed the proposal, known as SB-33. At House hearings that lasted until early 2020, however, some 171 opponents testified against the effort they said risked chilling free speech and preventing the faithful from exercising their spiritual duties at a moment when scientists credibly argue that new fossil fuel projects doom humanity to hellish global warming. Just nine spoke in favor of the bill.
For nearly a year, the bill sat dormant. But this week, on the state Legislature’s final day, House lawmakers quietly passed it. The measure is expected to reach Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk on Monday.