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Coronavirus-Response Package Signed Into Law

March 27, 2020
Scott Wiggam News

Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197, cosponsored by State Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County), into law Friday. 

Representative Wiggam stated, “This legislation addresses a variety of challenges that our state is facing during these unprecedented times and will help provide flexibility for our schools, healthcare systems, local governments and our social safety nets in order to weather the storm brought on by the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak. I believe that Ohio and our nation will come out of this emergency stronger than ever. Please stay safe and stay healthy. “ 

The emergency legislation passed under House Bill 197 addressed many issues, including:

- Testing & Accountability – Eliminates state-mandated K-12 student assessments for the 2019-20 school year. It eliminates Ohio’s school district and school building report cards for the 2019-20 school year, prohibits ODE from assigning letter grades to buildings or districts, prohibits rankings based on report card data and creates “safe harbor” for schools and districts to ensure data from the 2019-20 school year will have no effect in determining sanctions or penalties. The proposal directs ODE to seek a waiver from federal testing requirements.

- Unemployment Compensation – Eliminates the work search requirement and the one-week waiting period during a declared public health emergency.

- Healthcare Workforce Support – Allows the Governor additional flexibility to support the healthcare workforce and providers during this declared health emergency. Allows for additional Medicaid flexibility to avoid significant workforce shortage and patient provider access shortages at the end of the coronavirus emergency.

- 2020 Primary Election – The primary election in-person polling locations were closed due to the public health crisis. Ohioans who cast their ballot early will have their vote count. Ohioans who were eligible to vote on March 17, 2020, will be able to cast their ballot by mail (absentee ballot) with the postmark date on or before April 27, 2020. In-person voting will only be available for individuals with disabilities who require in-person voting and to those who do not have a home mailing address on April 28, 2020 and only at boards of elections early voting centers, not at precinct polling locations. The Ohio Secretary of State will mail all voters a postcard informing them on how they will be able to request their ballot by mail from their local county Board of Elections. After a ballot application is submitted, the board will send voters their ballot and a postage paid return envelope.

- EdChoice Scholarship – The bill freezes the 2019-20 performance-based EdChoice building eligibility list at 517 buildings for the 2020-21 school year. The legislation allows siblings of current voucher students to participate. Under continuing law, the EdChoice application portal will open for 60 days beginning April 1, 2020, to process income-based EdChoice vouchers, renewals of existing performance-based vouchers, and new students attending the 517 buildings already on the list. The bill prohibits expansion of the building list to 1,227 buildings.

- Tax Year 2019 and 2020 Changes - Ohio’s tax filing deadline will be the same as the federal filing deadline, July 15.

- Teacher Evaluations and Licenses – For current teachers, the bill provides flexibility for teacher evaluations that were due to be completed during the 2019-20 school year and removes the value-added component from the evaluation. For new teachers unable to take the final licensure test due to testing center closures, the bill provides them with a provisional teaching license for the 2020-21 school year if they graduated from college, and have successfully completed student teaching and a background check.

- Licensure Extension – This bill provides that any license under the Ohio Revised Code that will expire between the effective date of the bill and December 1, 2020, is to be extended until December 1, 2020. This applies to all licenses including but not limited to drivers’ licenses, vehicle registration licenses, teacher’s license, driving permit and Concealed Handgun Licenses.

- Rainy Day Fund – This bill allows the Governor, prior to the end of the fiscal year (June 30th), to seek State Controlling Board approval to transfer funds from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund to the state’s General Revenue Fund, if necessary, in order to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Currently, there is $2.7 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.