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Two Ohio Lawmakers Could Make it Easier to Regain Revoked Licenses

Two state lawmakers from Cleveland – a Democrat and a Republican – have proposed a bill that would help some of the million Ohioans who have lost their drivers’ licenses for committing a crime but can’t afford the fines to get them back. 

Democratic Rep. John Barnes Jr. says he thinks many of those million or so people are still driving. But he says there’s a real economic impact on the state regarding those who aren’t.  

“A lot of people have had sustained unemployment as a direct result of not having a driver’s license.”

The bill Barnes is sponsoring with Republican Dave Greenspan would apply only to those who are non-violent offenders who weren’t facing drug, alcohol or sex-related charges. They’d have to have gone a year and a half since their licenses were suspended and have to have completed all court sanctions. Those charged with multiple offenses could pay the lowest fee, those charged with one crime could pay half the cost, and people who can prove indigence would have their fees waived entirely.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.