The House on Thursday voted 69-25 to accept compromise legislation that
would replace Ohio's unpopular vehicle emission test with a more basic tailpipe
test in northeastern Ohio and the Dayton area.
The bill goes to Gov. George Voinovich, who has promised to veto it.
"The people who are currently subject to E-check will still have
to take a test, and will have to pay more under this bill," explained
Mike Dawson, Voinovich's spokesman.
But backers say the legislation is the best compromise they could design
to appease motorists who complained about long lines, inaccurate results
and damage to their automobiles.
The Senate approved the bill 24-9, meaning both houses could conceivably
override what would be Voinovich's seventh veto since taking office in 1991.
Rep. Tom Johnson, R-New Concord, said the new test - along with other
measures, such as reformulated gasoline - will allow the state to comply
with federal clean air standards.
Opponents say the bill is unfair because it requires drivers in 14 counties
to have their cars tested while leaving the rest of the state free of the
requirement no matter how dirty their air is.
Voinovich also has worried that the federal government will impose greater
sanctions on businesses in counties that don't meet clean air standards.
E-check would remain in the Cincinnati area because it has not been in
attainment with clean air standards set by the federal government. Testing
has been suspended in Cincinnati, however, because of a dispute between
the testing company and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The House, on a 49-47 vote, also rejected a compromise version of a bill
that would let teens get their learner's permit at 15 1/2 while requiring
them to spend more time driving with an adult.
The legislation was designed to require more supervised road experience
for the state's youngest drivers because statistics show they are more likely
to be involved in accidents.
But some opponents of the version worked out by House and Senate negotiators
earlier this week objected to a provision added to prohibit 16- and 17-year-olds
from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are traveling to or from
work or a school function.
Other objected to lowering the age at which teen-agers can get learner's
permits. Teens now get the permit when they turn 16.
"I like the bill, except for the curfew," said House Transportation
Chairman Sam Bateman, R-Cincinnati.
Bateman says he is prepared to move ahead with a version that does not
contain the curfew. Or the bill could go back to conference committee for