Amending the state's public nuisance law to include violence as one of the components for shutting down an establishment is not turning out to be the slam dunk one of the measure's co-sponsors anticipated.

Amending the state's public nuisance law to include violence as one of the components for shutting down an establishment is not turning out to be the slam dunk one of the measure's co-sponsors anticipated.

"It's obviously a little more difficult than I thought it was going to be," state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) admitted last week.

The legislation -- House Bill 126 -- to add "offenses of violence" to the existing illegal drug activities, prostitution and blight to public nuisance declarations is being cosponsored in the Ohio House of Representatives by Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard).

State Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) has introduced a similar measure there.

Unexpected opposition has arisen to the bill, according to Leland. Since testimony on the measure has so far only been taken from those who favor its passage, Leland said he did not want to speculate on the reasons for objections to the change.

However, at the Oct. 6 meeting of the Northland Community Council, Assistant City Attorney William Sperlazza did address what he called rumors and misinformation regarding the addition to the existing state statute.

He said some in the local motel and apartment community are spreading the word that "innocent property owners" who don't live in central Ohio and are unaware that things such as illegal drug sales, prostitution and violent crimes are occurring at their rental units will find them abruptly boarded up if the change is passed.

That is not the case, Sperlazza added.

Nevertheless, the legislative process requires that concerns of those who oppose a measure be addressed, Leland said last week.

"The idea is still a good one," he added. "It's going to help protect the neighborhoods and help the communities."

The measure he and Kunze are sponsoring needs to be passed by the end of 2016, Leland said, or a new bill would need to be introduced.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "I can't predict the future, but I'm optimistic that one way or the other, we can make this happen."

Testimony from those in favor of adding violent offenses to the nuisance law was taken last week, including written statements from Sperlazza and Columbus police officers Scott Clinger and William Geis. The officers helped spearhead investigations into troublesome hotels and motels in the Northland area in recent years that led to several being shuttered as public nuisances.

"It's a sad day when the illegal purchase of alcohol can be used as evidence of a nuisance, but someone shot on the premises cannot," the officers stated in their submitted testimony.

"While investigating nuisance abatement cases, we kept running into a problem," Sperlazza said in his written testimony. "The problem is that, as currently constructed, the Ohio nuisance abatement code does not consider acts of violence as evidence of a nuisance.

"This does not make sense. Everyone would agree that acts of violence are more severe than drug offenses, prostitution offenses and liquor law offenses."

He went on to say that H.B. 126 does not create law but simply "modernizes" an existing one.

"Our community members ask for our help in stopping these dens of crime, and currently, we can do nothing to keep them from continued operation," Geis and Clinger also stated.