Sen. Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, is the sponsor of SB 316, the foreign flag ban. Her cosponsors are: Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard; Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo; Shirley Smith, D-Cleveland, and Sue Morano, D-Lorain. The Flag Manufacturers Association of America has ban supporting similar legislation for years. It is a trade group that considers it unpatriotic to fly U.S. flags imported from other nations, including China. The Ohio bill doesn't mention China. But it clearly seems pointed at that nation, which is resented in Midwest manufacturing states for gobbling up the region's factory jobs and undermining the economy. Last year, Minnesota adopted a measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tom Rukavina that prohibits the sale of imported U.S. flags in that state. Rukavina told reporters:
"The biggest honor that you can give the flag is that it be made by American workers in the United States of America. Nothing is more embarrassing to me that than a plastic flag made in China. This replica of freedom we so respect should be made in this country."
Tennessee requires that state-purchased flags be U.S. made, and Arizona says flags in its school classrooms must be domestically manufactured. The debate over foreign-made flags has been around since soon after 9/11 when Americans began flying flags after the terrorists attacks and flag sales moved into record territory. Some $52 million worth of U.S. flags were imported.
Salon, the online magazine, said in 2001 that many of the flags came from overseas sweatshops:
"But what, exactly, are we supporting when we buy flags? Well, for starters, a repressive communist regime intent on denying its own citizens the freedom for which the American flag supposedly stands. America's flags, until now, have been made largely at home by the kind of ma-and-pa industry that makes the nation great. Most are family businesses that have stitched Old Glory with care since the Civil War."