COLUMBUS—State Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) today applauded Gov. Mike DeWine as he signed into law House Bill (HB) 197, which will provide needed supports to working people, families and businesses in Ohio amid the coronavirus outbreak. It passed both legislative chambers unanimously Wednesday.
“I am pleased that Governor DeWine signed House Bill 197 and enacted the legislature’s much-needed response to the COVID-19 pandemic into law” said Rep Brown. “While there is still work to be done to protect working Ohio families, these commonsense steps of clarifying our primary election, suspending standardized testing for students, and supporting local government’s ability to still meet, among other provisions, are necessary policies that House Democrats pushed for”.
HB 197 contains several long-held Democratic priorities, such as expanded unemployment benefits for Ohioans out of work as a result of the coronavirus, an extension of absentee voting for the Ohio primary to April 28, and commonsense solutions to support K-12 education and healthcare access for all Ohioans.
Other key components of HB 197 include:
- Moving state tax deadline from April 15 to July 15;
- Prohibiting water shutoffs for Ohio consumers during crisis;
- Suspending staff-to-child ratios and maximum group sizes at child-care centers;
- Giving the Director of Medicaid additional flexibility to support the health care workforce and providers during crisis;
- Allowing recent nursing graduates to obtain a temporary license to practice prior to passing the licensure examination;
- Waiving state testing for the 19-20 school year and allowing students to graduate who were already on track to do so;
- Exempting schools from food processing requirements to ensure children have access to nutrition even if their school is closed;
- Limiting EdChoice school buildings for 20-21 to those eligible in 19-20;
- Allowing schools to use distance learning to make up for missed days or hours of instruction caused by statewide K-12 closures;
- Allowing licensed special education providers to serve students through tele-health and other electronic communications methods;
- Extending validity of state licenses and providing a 90-day renewal period;
- Permitting public bodies to meet electronically as long as the public has ability to participate as well;
With the governor’s signing, the bill becomes effective immediately.