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House passes Blair police bill

The Ohio House approved a bill, co-sponsored by outgoing state Rep. Gil Blair, to allow police in townships with populations of at least 5,000 to enforce traffic laws on interstate highways.

Townships with populations of less than 50,000 currently have no jurisdiction to make arrests or issue tickets on interstate highways.

This bill would allow police officers in townships of at least 5,000, if authorized by their trustees, to make arrests for traffic violations on interstate highways within their territorial jurisdictions.

“This bill will allow township police departments to work with the highway patrol to devise strategies to prevent and reduce the number of accidents on dangerous roadways,” said Blair, D-Weathersfield, who co-sponsored the bill with state Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg.

Blair added, “Allowing these departments jurisdiction will enhance safety to the public and our first responders, and will open doors for cooperation which have previously been locked shut.”

Blair said the bill will save lives in the Mahoning Valley, particularly on Interstates 76 and 80, which are designated as “distracted driving corridors” by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The House approved the bill 73 to 20 on Thursday, the same day it had its fifth hearing in front of the House Criminal Justice Committee. It was introduced March 5.

The bill needs approval by the state Senate by the end of this month and signed by the governor in order to become law.

Blair lost his election effort last month to Republican Mike Loychik of Cortland by 8.34 percent and will leave office at the end of the month.

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