Move to ban Confederate flag at county fairs fails

In 2006, the Confederate flag was repeatedly seen at the Butler County Fair in the form of hats, T-shirts, belt buckles, and even a Confederate flag used in a horse saddle design. Booths at the fairgrounds had their share of Confederate merchandise, too, including games where people could win large Confederate flags to small mirrors bearing the Confederate flag. GREG LYNCH / STAFF FILE 2006
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In 2006, the Confederate flag was repeatedly seen at the Butler County Fair in the form of hats, T-shirts, belt buckles, and even a Confederate flag used in a horse saddle design. Booths at the fairgrounds had their share of Confederate merchandise, too, including games where people could win large Confederate flags to small mirrors bearing the Confederate flag. GREG LYNCH / STAFF FILE 2006

The same day that NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its events, Ohio Republican lawmakers rejected a move to ban sale or display of the flag at county and independent fairs.

The House Agriculture Committee, which is headed by state Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, voted along party lines against an amendment offered by state Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland.

The state fair has banned the sale and display of the Confederate flag and memorabilia since 2015.

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The Legislative Service Commission, a nonpartisan agency that prepares and analyzes bills, said the amendment could run afoul with the First Amendment protection of political speech.

Koehler said while he doesn’t agree with flying the Confederate flag, he opposed the amendment because he believed it could be unconstitutional and would jeopardize the bill.

Brent’s amendment failed on a party-line vote.

On Wednesday, NASCAR announced: “The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”