Jay Edwards

Jay Edwards during a House session in 2017. Photo courtesy of The Ohio House of Representatives.

By Ben Peters

Athens NEWS Associate Editor

State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) falsely claimed in a Facebook post last Wednesday that a December 2020 law he helped pass made way for the creation of Athens’ newly approved designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA.

The law in question, House Bill 674, had no impact on the creation of DORAs, programs that cities across Ohio have implemented to loosen open container laws, allowing bar patrons to bring alcoholic drinks into the streets. The bill instead expanded areas where alcohol can be consumed inside public airports, among other minor tweaks to state liquor laws, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission’s (OLSC) nonpartisan analysis of the law.

While Edwards voted in favor of the law and was a member of the Commerce and Labor committee that it passed through, he was neither a sponsor nor cosponsor of the legislation. He did not return requests for comment.

“This was made possible by HB 674 I worked on with my friend Brett Hillyer for State Representative! The bills we work on in Columbus make a difference! Great bill! #Fighting4SoutheastOhio,” Edwards falsely claimed while sharing news of Athens City Council’s approval of a DORA.

The most recent piece of legislation amending DORA law was House Bill 160, which Edwards had no association with.

Edwards’ Facebook post about the DORA was one of many in a Trumpian late-night flurry the representative made in an attempt to broadcast examples of how his work in Columbus benefits his southeast Ohio constituents.

Those posts followed the issuing of a statement arguing that his vote to not expel Larry Householder, the ex-speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and Edwards’ former boss, from the House. Householder was indicted in 2020 in connection to what’s been described by the FBI as a $60 million bribery scheme to pass nuclear bailout legislation. Edwards said his vote had little impact on the lives of those who elected him.

His statement on that vote was prompted by reporters from The Athens NEWS and The Athens Messenger who traveled to the Statehouse June 22 to solicit comment when Edwards failed to respond to numerous phone calls, text messages and emails throughout the previous week.

He declined to comment on the vote in person while trying to evade the conversation.

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