Recently, the House Public Utilities Committee heard opponent testimony on Senate Bill 33, also known as the “Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.” The Ohio Senate passed SB 33 on May 1, 2019, in bi-partisan fashion, where it was designated as an Ohio Chamber of Commerce “Key Vote.”
Senate Bill 33 would increase penalties for those who physically damage or tamper with critical infrastructure projects. These projects include, but are not limited to telecommunications networks, railroads, pipelines, electric generating facilities, and water sewer systems. Destruction to certain infrastructure projects could also be harmful to the health and safety of the public.
Critics of SB 33 claim that the bill will infringe on their constitutional right to peacefully protest; however, this premise is misguided. If an individual physically destroys or tampers with a critical infrastructure project, this bill will allow local decision makers to decide whether to prosecute these actions. SB 33 will contribute to the growth of Ohio’s economy and will ensure that current and future capital investments in the state are safe from physical damage.
The committee is expected to meet again in the coming weeks and continue their consideration of SB 33. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce will continue to lend support for Senate Bill 33 as it makes its way through this process.