COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Work by lawmakers on the Reagan Tokes Act, or House Bill 365 as it has been filed, is officially underway now that one of the several bills dedicated to it has had its first hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee.
State Representatives Kristin Boggs and Jim Hughes gave sponsor testimony Tuesday afternoon in front of a full gallery at the Statehouse.
Afterward, members of the committee asked many questions of the sponsors; far more than what is normal for a bill going through its first hearing.
This was a promising development in Boggs eyes as it told her the committee members were engaged, and Representative Hughes hopes it will help propel the legislation through the committee process.
The members of the House Criminal Justice committee have connections to the criminal justice field; at least one was a former parole officer, another was a former magistrate.
All of them asked questions meant to get to the meat of the issues the bill seeks to resolve.
The Reagan Tokes act wants to change the way convicted felons are monitored after released, and how violent offenders are sentenced to ensure they are attempting to rehabilitate themselves while incarcerated.
Reagan Tokes was an Ohio State University student who police say was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a convicted felon on parole.
He was fitted with a GPS monitor, but no time or place restrictions on his movements were given to the monitoring company.
It was only after Tokes’ murder that investigators claimed to have linked him to several armed robberies in the weeks leading up to her death.
House Bill 365’s companion bills in the Senate have not had their first hearings yet. The single bill from the House has been split into two bills for the Senate to go over; otherwise they are identical to HB 365.
Next up for HB 365 will be proponent testimony. Hughes and Boggs have asked the Chairman of the Criminal Justice committee to hold this hearing as soon as possible.
“We want to see this progressing very much,” said Hughes. He would like to see HB 365 voted through the House Chamber by the end of the year if possible.
But lawmakers have shown they are interested in getting to the bottom of what caused the circumstances surrounding Tokes’ death; and they want to make sure the fix to those problems won’t have any unintended side effects.
That could force them to take a more measured approach.