Voting is one of the most sacred parts of our Republic. It’s where we as citizens cast our votes on the issues that really matter, from taxes and infrastructure to schools and jobs. Our elected officials, however, seem to have a much different prerogative: tomato juice.
That’s right, tomato juice. The cold, bitter, salty drink that seems to be taking up space on the Ohio State Legislature’s docket.
On Nov. 5th, State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) introduced House Bill 393. The bill would change the official state beverage from tomato juice to apple cider.
Such legislation is cute, Rep. Galonski, but it does nothing to impact the lives of Ohioans.
The state of Ohio is facing much larger and more pressing problems, from LGBTQ discrimination to capital punishment and prison reform.
It is estimated that 20,000 LGBTQ minors (13-17) will be subjected to conversion therapy in states that have not outlawed the practice. One of those states is Ohio, and despite numerous attempts to change the law, the dangerous status quo persists.
The fact that conversion therapy still exists (other than the obvious reasons), in the Buckeye State is particularly egregious, considering the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender girl. Alcorn committed suicide after her parents refused to accept her identity, subsequently sending the teen to conversion therapy.
In the wake of Alcorn’s death, many cities in Ohio (including Athens) banned the practice. Despite that, lawmakers in Columbus have refused to take action.
Ohio’s legislative woes extend further, however, to both capital punishment and prison reform.
Of the 29 states that practice the death penalty, Ohio has the seventh-highest number of individuals on death row, costing taxpayers an estimated $16 million. Such spending and the high number of death row inmates defies rational logic, as an estimated 4.1% of convicts are innocent. Moreover, the cost of capital punishment significantly outweighs that of a life sentence, by an estimated $1.2 million.
The problems with Ohio’s criminal justice system do not end with capital punishment. Many general population inmates are wrongfully sentenced and subjected to miserable living conditions.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, approximately 889 years of life outside of prison have been lost by those wrongfully convicted in Ohio. While there exists a project to free those from prison who are innocent, it doesn’t do much to stop those people from being convicted in the first place.
Additionally, it should be noted that many of those currently serving time behind bars face harsh conditions, such as unreasonably high medical copays, inadequate medical care and meager wages for workers.
It’s safe to say Ohio is facing some pretty severe challenges from all areas of society. Is it safe to say that our lawmakers feel the same way?
Because for now, it appears as if a cold, inanimate beverage takes precedent over the warm, beating hearts of Ohioans.
Matthew Geiger is a freshman studying economics at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Matthew? Tweet him @Mattg444.