Ohio legislators pass COVID-19 relief


COLUMBUS – State Representative Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) announced the unanimous passage of Am. Sub. H.B. 197 on Wednesday, March 25 by both House and Senate, providing emergency relief for Ohio families, businesses, and communities in the midst of the effects of COVID-19.

“As a state we are living in unprecedented times due to COVID-19,” said Rep. Powell. “As a legislature, we want to do everything we can to protect the rights and freedoms of Ohioans. That is our responsibility, and the current crisis does not negate that, but rather makes even strong our commitment to securing liberty for Ohioans.”

Some of the highlights of the COVID-19 package include the following:

* Ohio’s state tax filing deadline will be July 15, mirroring the newly adjusted federal tax deadline for this year.

* Absentee voting for the March 17 primary will be extended to April 28, giving Ohioans the ability to submit their ballots via mail if they have not already voted.

* Public water disconnections are prohibited during the pandemic, ensuring that Ohioans will not have their water cut off.

* Waiving unemployment barriers including the first week waiting period, the work search requirement, and unemployment eligibility will now include COVID-19 related lay-offs.

* State testing, district and building report cards have been waived for the 2019-2020 school year. The bill eases restrictions on distance learning, creates a safe harbor from sanctions for schools, and permits seniors to graduate if their school determines they are on track to do so. The 2020-21 list of EdChoice eligible schools will be the exact same as the 2019-2020 list.

* Provisions for the continuity of school lunch programs and student meal delivery.

* The bill suspends staff to child ratio requirements and maximum group sizes at operating child-care centers during the duration of this pandemic.

* Public meeting requirements for local governments, commissions, boards, etc. will be adjusted to allow for publicly accessible online meetings during this time.

* Any state issued occupational license that is set to expire between the bill’s effective date and Dec. 1, 2020, will be automatically extended to Dec. 1, 2020.

* Removal of barriers for essential government and health workers, waiving rehire waiting time for critical agency workers, and allowing nursing graduates to practice prior to passing licensure exams.

“This is a hard time for our communities as I have seen so many in our communities step up and serve in this time, and we want to see more of that. Our goal in this bill is to aid in community, business, and family efforts to fight COVID-19 in our state and nation. This legislation will help bring us back on track to a thriving economy so that we can continue living our American dreams in Ohio,” said Powell.

Powell continued, “Even though times can be difficult, our communities are strong, our state is strong, and the United States is strong. Together, we are going to get through this pandemic.”

As always, if you have any questions about this COVID-19 package or any other state government concern, reach out to their office at 614-466-8114 or Rep80@ohiohouse.gov.