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.
sponsor of the bill, which also instructs local law enforcement to lend
assistance when able to federal authorities carrying out provisions of the
"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.
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'
"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.
FOX News' Steve Brown contributed to this report.