Senate District 31
Jay Hottinger
Hottinger: Ohio Senate Passes Bill Providing Emergency Relief for Ohioans During COVID-19 Pandemic
March 25, 2020

COLUMBUS—State Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) today 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.

“Today in the Ohio Senate we took swift bipartisan action to address the issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hottinger. “By passing emergency legislation, we provided tools to continue essential operations of state government and ease many burdens our citizens are facing. Ohio is a strong state and we will get through this health crisis together.”

The relief measures include, among other things, the following:

  • Ensuring 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 programs.

    •  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.

  • Ensures flexibility and public access for public meetings

    • The bill permits state boards and commissions, local and county governments and higher education boards to operate meetings electronically so long as the public is aware and can participate electronically.

  • Extends voting for Ohio’s primary election

    • The bill extends absentee voting by mail for the March 17, 2020 primary election to April 28, 2020 and authorizes funding to pay associated costs.

  • Extends Ohio’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020

    • The bill extends the date for estimated payments, aligning with the federal change and waiving interest payments in addition to already waived penalties.

Am.Sub. H.B. 197 now returns to the Ohio House for consideration and concurrence. Today’s session is archived on

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