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HB 371: Ohio's Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
I'm an attorney in Ohio, and I want to notify you of an Ohio bill that should be strongly opposed: HB 371.
Essentially, the bill proposes to authorize child welfare professionals to take children from their homes without constitutional due process, and for virtually any substantive reason. Things like accidental injury, low mental abilities, spanking, poverty conditions, negligent failure to keep the kid from doing a slew of bad things that most kids get into at some point in their youth, etc.
The House Civil and Commercial Law Committee just heard sponsor testimony this past Tuesday. The Chair and Vice-Chair both co-sponsor the bill, so they can be expected to try to move the bill quickly, before it has much time to incite opposition. Another hearing can be expected on a soon-coming Tuesday (probably Feb. 2). Thus, the quicker we alert people to call their state reps in opposition, and to call the committee members in opposition, the better.
The National Coalition on Child Protection Reform (NCCPR) is already aware of the bill, and is actively opposing it. Several influential associations have drafted the bill, and have been promoting it somewhat heavily.
Read NCCPR's Alert:
Under current Ohio law, almost anything imaginable can be considered abuse or neglect. The new law simply takes the burden of imagination off the shoulders of caseworkers by providing the most breathtakingly broad laundry list in any statute I've ever seen anywhere in the country.
There is not a parent in Ohio who wouldn't be at risk of losing her or his child to foster care at some point under the provisions of this bill, were a caseworker inclined to take that child away.
Read HSLDA's Alert:
H.B. 371 is a 565 page bill that would rewrite Ohio's current laws that define when a child is abused or neglected. The bill would change the language and structure of Ohio's current abuse and neglect law substituting the language and structure known as "a child in need of services." The bill creates seven general areas where state officials can choose to intervene in a family and would likely increase state intervention in the parent-child relationship.
Read CHEO's Legislative Alert:
Contact your Legislators
Here are the House Civil and Commercial Law Committee members, please contact each member and ask them to OPPOSE HB 371: