Hopefully I don't get in trouble for reposting a Fox News report. :-/
Taft signs "show us your papers" bill.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Ohio Republican Gov. Bob Taft on Wednesday signed a bill into law passed by the state legislature with barely a word of dissent. Supporters of the state's security measure, which takes effect in 90 days, say it's a tool the state can use in fighting terrorism.
"Like everyone else, after Sept. 11, I became a lot more concerned about our safety and security," said state Sen. Jeff Jacobson, sponsor of the bill, which also instructs local law enforcement to lend assistance when able to federal authorities carrying out provisions of the Patriot Act.
"We felt very strongly that we needed to have laws in Ohio to out our state on the frontline of fighting terrorism," Jacobson said.
But dissent is building over authority given to police officers, who can now ask, "What's your name?" as a tool to fight terrorism. Failure to identify oneself could land an individual in jail.
Critics call the measure the Ohio Patriot Act. The law also requires those applying for state driver's licenses to sign a form that they haven't supported terrorist organizations.
The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the measure because of the new powers it gives to police.
"[It] takes us back to the days of Sen. McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities with demands that people confess their sins," said Jeffrey Gamso, a spokesman for the ACLU.
But supporters such as police agencies say the new law will be useful without abusing civil rights.
"I think there's enough checks and balances and enough guidelines have been set up by the courts that we will follow," said Michael Weinman, legal liaison for the Columbus, Ohio, police department.
The final version of the bill passed the state Senate with only two 'no' votes.
"People are very afraid to vote against any bill of this nature," said Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University. "They have to stand for re-election and no one wants to be perceived as soft on terrorism."
Others agree that the measure will come up in the upcoming election.
"This doesn't have a little to do with the upcoming election. It has everything to do with the upcoming election," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.