COLUMBUS—State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today called on Gov. Mike DeWine to use his executive authority to release funds to create a temporary, emergency paid leave program for Ohio workers affected by the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Boyd's call follows two letters sent this week on behalf of the caucus pushing for benefits to ensure the economic security of Ohio families.
“The United States is one of a few developed nations in the world without a guaranteed paid sick leave law. Without access to paid sick days, many working people are forced to choose between staying home to recover or continue working,” said Rep. Boyd. “I have introduced paid family and medical leave three times over the past three General Assemblies, including House Bill (HB) 91, introduced in 2019, yet it has never been up for a committee or floor vote. In this time of crisis, I’ve also reached out to the DeWine administration with emergency paid leave language. I hope the administration will take swift action to establish emergency paid sick day legislation now, and that my colleagues will finally vote to pass HB 91.”
DeWine this week announced nearly a half-dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio and moved to shut down K-12 schools, limit access to nursing homes and prison facilities, and ban large, public gatherings of 100 or more people. Numerous businesses and organizations have implemented telecommuting policies, including cabinet-level agencies in Ohio.
Boyd and House Dems continue to raise concerns, however, about the impact the outbreak is having on lower-income workers, including food and retail workers, nurses and other hourly workers who have to take off work, oftentimes without pay, to care for themselves, a sick loved one, or children out of school following the governor’s announced “extended spring break” for K-12 students.
Dems have urged DeWine to create a temporary sick leave program using his executive powers to use general revenue funding; increase and appropriate funds in the Controlling Board’s Emergency Purposes Fund; tap into the Budget Stabilization Fund, which is near-capacity; or utilize reserve TANF funds that have historically been used for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances.
Illinois implemented a similar plan earlier this week.