First, I want to thank everybody who wrote to the Ohio Statehouse Board (The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board—CSRAB). I attended the meeting yesterday morning and talked to the members as they arrived.
There wasn’t a lot of time so I couldn’t say a lot.
On my way in, I passed through the basement, where they have an exhibit on individual rights. And right there on one of the displays:
(Sorry it’s blurry—all I had was my cell phone.)
That’s from the Ohio Constitution (Article I, Section 1).
For each member I asked them to vote against the rule, brought up the issue of barefooted guests at the weddings they host, and noted the issue of personal freedom as supposedly professed in the display. A few of them noted all of the emails that they’d received. (Yay for you!)
It was to no avail. I think their minds were made up in advance (well, almost all of them), and they were more than willing to follow the lead of the chairman of the board, former Senate President Richard Finan.
So, here is the shoe rule they passed:
Attire – Full attire, including shirts and shoes or comparable footwear, are required within the capitol buildings.
They also modified their rule regarding waivers to now read:
These rules may be waived by the Executive Director, Chairman, or their designees, for good cause shown. Any person wishing to obtain a waiver of board rules must contact the board, in writing, within a reasonable time in advance of the event.
The rules have not yet gone into effect. They still have to be approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (or, I should say, they get a chance to invalidate them). This is what happened the last time the rule change was before them, and I testified against it.
This is really a minor change, particularly when considering all the discussion that occurred in the JCARR meeting. It does not appear to me as if the modified wording really satisfies what I heard from JCARR. However, the Executive Director of CSRAB said that he had talked to at least 5 members of JCARR who were OK with the modification.
There is nothing for you all to do right now. We’ll have to wait for the modified rule to be re-scheduled before JCARR. I will let you know as soon as I find out when that is, and then a new set of letters might be helpful.
The meeting is being reported in today’s Columbus Dispatch: Shoes to be required to enter Statehouse.
[Update: for some reason, the story is on two different places on the Dispatch website, with two different titles. The first is the one referenced above, the second is Those who enter Statehouse must have soles. To which I guess we could add the rejoinder, "Those who would make such a rule have no souls."]
Here’s how it starts (you really can’t blame the reporter—who could resist?):
No shirt, no shoes, no Statehouse.
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board today approved a rule requiring “ shoes or comparable footwear” for all Statehouse visitors. It now must be reviewed by another state panel, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.
The rule change resulted from public-safety concerns, spokesman Gregg Dodd said.
You can see that he also mentions Richard Finan.
They gave their standard excuse of safety. I’m afraid the reporter rather put words into my mouth, though, for my response:
Statehouse officials have said some of the floors of the Statehouse are cracked or uneven and could harm bare feet.
Neinast said state officials should be more concerned with banning women’s high heels, which can cause damage by exerting enormous concentrated pressure on hard surfaces.
Yes, I said they should ban high heels, but I told the reporter it was because of the damage to feet and the high stresses to knees.
As the reporter notes, I am getting tired of this. I appreciate the help from all your barefooters (or even freedom-loving non-barefooters), but, as I also told the reporter:
It seems that it is the politicians who most complain about government getting to large who want to add these new rules and infringe on these basic “inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty . . . and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.”