The competition is on and Ohio is in the running to become the nation’s top supporter of military families. It began when the Defense Department identified ten policy issues of importance to families of active duty personnel. They include allowing military spouses to have their professional licenses and certifications to be immediately recognized in the state where they are being relocated. Also, the DOD wants states to offer in-state college tuition rates for family members after they move to a new state.
Just recently Ohio lawmakers passed an initiative to allow children to register in a new school district before they actually relocate to their new home and to permit those students to take virtual classes in the new district if they are available. Rep. Andrea White was one of the main sponsors of HB 244, signed by Gov. Mike DeWine this week.
“We’re supporting kids who support us by being part of a family that moves 6 to 8 times through their growing up years,” White said.
DeWine signed the bill even though it had been amended in the State Senate to include a controversial clause prohibiting public schools and universities from requiring students to get the coronavirus vaccine. Another main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Brian Lampton, R- Beavercreek, said the amendment only applies as long as the vaccines are approved under an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. Lampton said the Governor is expecting full use authorization from the FDA to be approved soon.
“Remember, the law (HB 244 ) takes effect in 90 days. That Senate amendment that attracted his attention may be a moot point,” Lampton said.
In fact, a statement from the Governor’s Press Secretary, Dan Tierney, confirmed that. “The primary purpose of the bill was to enhance educational opportunities for children in military families–a worthy goal. The amendment was limited to vaccines that do not have full FDA approval. We are confident that these vaccines, proven repeatedly to be very safe and very effective, will be approved by the FDA, thus rendering this issue moot,” Tierney said.
When the bill takes effect, Ohio will move closer to approval of the ten policy issues identified by the Defense Department. David Burrows of the Dayton Development Coalition, in a statement issued Thursday, credited White and Lampton for their work on HB 244.
“This was one of 10 priorities the Department of Defense recommended states enact to support military families, and Ohio now has completed seven and made progress on nine of those priorities. We look forward to working with our Ohio legislative delegation and the Governor to move the remaining three priorities forward,” Burrows said.
Another bill to satisfy an additional policy issue request from the DOD is expected to be introduced at the Statehouse next week. If Ohio becomes the first state in the nation, or even makes the top three, it could give the state an edge in competition for new jobs and missions.