Swearingen, Gavarone bills signed by governor

Larry Limpf

Bills sponsored by two area state legislators have recently been signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine.
Senate Bill 181, sponsored by Sen. Theresa Gavarone, restricts school systems from adopting rules that prohibit wearing religious apparel when competing in interscholastic or extra-curricular events.
The bill passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature: 91-0 in the House last month, and 33-0 in the Senate last June.
The bill permits officials of athletic or extra-curricular events to limit the wearing of religious apparel if there is a “legitimate danger” to participants but requires an official to offer “all reasonable” accommodations to a participant.
The bill authorizes a civil action for damages against someone who violates the prohibition but also provides qualified immunity for school officials and employees in a civil action against them for the injury or death or other loss allegedly stemming from fulfilling their duties under the bill.
A December 2019 sports uniform regulation of the Ohio High School Athletics Association regarding religious headwear states that if a head coach informs a referee before the start of an event that a player does not want to expose his or her uncovered head, the referee must approve wearing a covering or wrap, provided:
-It does not “fundamentally alter the sport.”
-It is not abrasive, hard, or dangerous to another participant.
-It is not attached in such a way that is likely to come off during play.
-It is not deemed to be unsporting or offensive.
In 2019, a Sylvania athlete was disqualified for wearing a hijab during a race.

Campground immunity
House Bill 229, sponsored by Rep. D.J. Swearingen provides qualified immunity for campground operators against risks inherent in camping and to exempt sites that host historical re-enactments from the recreational and camping operation license requirements.
In his sponsor testimony before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Swearingen said the bill provides campground operators protection against frivolous lawsuits.
“Which means that the uncontrollable environment surrounding camping like bugs, animals, terrain and other parts of nature, will not be held against the owner and operators. It also takes into account any negligent behavior on the part of the camper or visitor that results in any kind of injury or death,” he said.
He said he worked with the Ohio Association of Justice to address concerns it had with an earlier version of the bill.
Jeff Hoffman, president of the Ohio Campground Owners Association, said an owner can’t entirely eliminate risks.
“In my 45 years in the camping business, I have had many incidents which would qualify under this bill, such as dog bites, people tripping over fire rings or tree roots, wind damage, animal encounters and many other episodes,” he told the committee. “I know this bill is not designed to eliminate our liability for things which are under our control and I agree with the limited scope of this bill.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association