On Wednesday morning Apr26th Barb Partington, a Trustee of Protect Geauga Parks, testified before the House Finance Committee on House Bill 49 and the budget amendment, HC 1793.
Language in his amendment gives probate judges in Ohio sweeping authority to investigate, prosecute and penalize citizens, government officials or entities who oppose or even question the actions of a park district. Further, the amendment grants the probate judge the power to set the penalties, including incarceration, for otherwise perfectly legal actions. In addition it would give the probate court the power to impose levies and taxes upon other governmental bodies, such as townships, forcing them to pay fees or taxes to the park district. The amendment is so vague as to allow the probate judge to set the amount of penalty, tax or fees at the court’s discretion.
Partington explained to the 32 member Finance committee of The Ohio House why this amendment had no place in a budget bill and that it was of dubious constitutionality.
Bringing a laugh to the committee, Partington noted that she was not an attorney, but that she was a really good social worker. Then Partington told the committee members that if the amendment became law it would likely face immediate court challenges. She said this would cost taxpayers and local governments and governmental bodies many thousands of dollars in legal expenses.