COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced that Governor Kasich has signed 15 bills, including Senate Bill 4, a bill Obhof co-sponsored to enact common sense criminal justice reforms to give human trafficking victims an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
Senate Bill 4 offers hope to these victims by allowing for expungement of certain offenses from their criminal record if committed as a result of his or her victimization. Currently, victims' arrests or charges follow them even when they were found “not guilty,” or the case was dismissed. This criminal record (usually for forced prostitution or drug use) can negatively impact a victim's ability to apply for a job or seek housing.
"Senate Bill 4 makes important reforms that will help victims rebuild their lives,” said Obhof. “These changes will make sure that our justice system treats victims fairly, rather than unfairly branding them as criminals for the rest of their lives.”
The legislation complements a series of bills passed over the last several years focusing on the eradication of human trafficking through better enforcement, increased penalties for perpetrators and greater public awareness.
For more information on efforts to stop human trafficking in Ohio, visit www.humantrafficking.ohio.gov.
“Positive Education Program”
Governor Kasich also signed House Bill 332, co-sponsored by Senator Obhof, which prohibits discrimination against potential transplant recipients solely on the basis of a disability. According to a report by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), individuals with mental and physical disabilities have historically been denied life-saving organ transplants. The bill ensures that Ohioans will not be denied transplants because of disabilities.
In May, the Senate added important amendments to the bill that will ensure children in the Positive Education Program (PEP) in Cuyahoga County will continue to receive funding for vital services after behavioral health services are integrated into managed care on July 1.
Established in 1989, PEP Connections is a well-regarded program that provides support for families who have children with severe mental health illnesses and helps coordinate care to ensure that their children are able to live successfully at home instead of being institutionalized. This spring, the continued success of the program was threatened by changes being implemented by the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The provisions added by the Senate will ensure that PEP can continue these services.
"The enactment of this legislation was important to ensuring the continuity of care for these children and their families," said Obhof.
Governor Kasich has also signed House Bill 438, which improves policies governing Ohio's Educational Service centers in order to better serve local school districts. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) and Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) and was originally introduced in response to concerns expressed by the Black River School District in Medina and Ashland counties.