Will Ohio become the second state in America to make Juneteeth a paid holiday?
That’s the hope of two bipartisan state senators who introduced Senate Bill 334 on Monday to make that happen.
They are state Sens. Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, and Andrew Brenner, R-Powell. Craig and Powell are joined by 12 other state senators, including Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.
Juneteenth is held each June 19 and commemorates the day in 1865 when African-American slaves in Texas learned they were free and that the Civil War was over.
Nearly every state recognizes Juneteenth as a holiday, though only in Texas is it a paid holiday for government employees.
If made into law, Senate Bill 334 would establish Juneteenth as a “legal holiday for which government employees receive paid leave.”
Craig and Brenner, in a news release, noted there is an effort to enact this change in other states and at the federal level in Congress.
“Even though Ohio already recognizes Juneteenth, it is important that workers across the state can have the day off to reflect on and celebrate the official ending of slavery in the United States,” Craig said in a news release. “Juneteenth was celebrated more widely across the country this year. By declaring it a state holiday, we hope this movement’s momentum will reverberate through generations to come.”
The introduction of this Senate bill and its immediate bipartisan support stands in contrast to the other state legislative chamber’s recent votes on Confederate symbols. The Republican-led Ohio House of Representatives voted against banning Confederate flags at county fairs. As reported by The Dayton Daily News, Just one legislator within the 61-member Republican caucus, Rep. Niraj Antani of Miamisburg, voted in favor of banning the symbols.
Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.