COLUMBUS- On Wednesday, State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) announced the unanimous passage of Am. Sub. H.B. 197, legislation providing several measures of emergency relief for Ohio’s families, schools, businesses and communities and ensuring the essential operations of state government during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Senate took action, not just to address current problems facing Ohio, but to better prepare us for when this crisis ends and we can get back to our normal lives,” Gavarone said. “Ohioans are tough and I have no doubt with this legislation, and our resolve, we will come out of this even stronger.”
Several relief measures passed this week become part of temporary law and will be in place until the Governor’s March 9, 2020 emergency order is rescinded, or until December 1, 2020, whichever comes first. For a summary of all amendments to Am. Sub. H.B. 197, click here.
The relief measures include, among other things, the following:
Ensures Ohioans’ water supplies will not be cut off
The bill prohibits public water disconnections during the pandemic.
Removes barriers to unemployment compensation
The bill waives the first week waiting period, changes eligibility to include COVID-19 related unemployment situations and waives the work search requirement.
Waives K-12 standardized testing and school report cards and eases restrictions on distance learning and permits seniors to graduate
The bill waives state testing and report cards for the 2019-2020 school year, creates a safe harbor from sanctions for schools and permits seniors to graduate if their school determines they are on track to do so, among other provisions. The bill also removes limits on K-12 distance learning and allows for tele-health options for special needs students.
Provides continuity for student lunch program
The bill provides flexibility to allow for continued student meal delivery.
Provides flexibility for teacher-child ratios in pandemic care facilities
The bill suspends the staff to child ratio requirements and maximum group sizes at operating child-care centers.
Extends certain license expiration dates
The bill extends the validity of licenses issued by state agencies and political subdivisions and provides a 90-day window for renewal.
Removes barriers for essential government and health workers
The bill provides greater flexibility for Ohio’s nurses and waives rehire waiting time for critical agency workers.
Connects recent nursing graduates with jobs
Creates a temporary license to practice nursing prior to passing the licensure examination in order to fill workforce vacancies during the COVID-19 crisis.