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Guest Column from State Representative Jeff Rezabek: Ensuring Safety and Success for Our Children

March 11, 2016
Republican Newsroom

As someone who has worked tirelessly with our community’s most vulnerable generation, I have made it a priority to continue that work at the Ohio Statehouse by fighting to ensure our children are best equipped for the path that lies ahead. In the 14 months I have spent in Columbus thus far, I am very proud of the legislation that the Ohio House of Representatives has passed to benefit youth across Ohio. Specifically, there are three bills that the Ohio House has worked on to ensure the safety and success of our young adults.

The first piece of legislation is House Bill 50, which is aimed at promoting and supporting the children in our foster care system. House Bill 50 does this by increasing the foster care eligibility age from 18 to 21. The bill incorporates a series of education and work requirements for these youth to remain within the foster care system. By doing so, we are creating a future for these kids past age 21 that consists of a full-time job and an education level that will benefit them for a lifetime. This program will be paid for by the state, ensuring that our counties will not be adversely affected by the extension.

Another piece of legislation that the Ohio House recently passed was House Bill 197. This was legislation that I introduced after working with teens who frequently participated in an activity known as “robotripping.” By consuming an entire bottle of Robitussin, coupled with other substances, an individual can experience a “high” that often results in hallucinations.

What unassuming youth do not realize is this can lead to many adverse reactions, including death. House Bill 197 restricts the sale of cough medicines, such as Robitussin, to customers under 18 in an effort to protect our children from consequences that they do not fully anticipate.

Finally, with the help of my colleague Representative Bill Hayes, I recently introduced House Bill 410 to help reduce the truancy epidemic many of our schools are struggling with. The reality is, many of these kids who are habitually absent often have problems outside of school that is exacerbating the absences.

To combat the issue, House Bill 410 requires school districts to notify parents within seven days of their child’s absences reaching 90 percent of the habitual truancy level. Additionally, the bill enables schools to create a plan to address the underlying cause of truancy. The most important aspect of the bill, however, is the fact that it works to return these students to the classroom rather than make a criminal out of them.

Throughout my time working in juvenile law, I have become an advocate, a mentor and friend for many kids who are lacking their own support system. These three pieces of legislation are major steps to ensuring a bright and successful future for our youngest generation. I am looking forward to continuing this positive trend toward helping our children, and our community, succeed.