COLUMBUS—State Senator Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) announced today the signing of House Bill 272 into law by Governor Mike DeWine. House Bill 272 includes an amendment offered by Johnson prohibiting any public official from universally closing places of worship in the state of Ohio. The amendment was adopted as part of the bill without objection.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen several states encroach on Americans' First Amendment right of worship and assembly, disregarding it completely by forcing the closure of places of worship and religious institutions," Johnson said. "While I am thankful that no such order was imposed in Ohio, this amendment is a preemptive step should we ever find ourselves in this situation again. I appreciate my colleagues' support of this important protection and I thank Governor DeWine for signing it into law today."
The underlying legislation in House Bill 272 expands Ohio's court jurisdictions, enabling more Ohioans to seek justice from companies or individuals who are not based within the state. The provision protecting the freedom to worship was added in response to a number of “stay at home orders” throughout the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio did not prohibit churches or religious organizations from meeting, but a number of other states did so. The bill also includes a Senate-added provision protecting in-person voting and preventing any public official from canceling or postponing an election.