Senate District 17
Bob Peterson
Peterson: Ohio Senate Passes Bill Providing Emergency Relief for Ohioans During COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020
COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) today announced the Senate's 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.

"House Bill 197 is vital to the well being and recovery of Ohioans during this pandemic," Peterson said. "I am proud that we as a General Assembly were able to come together quickly and do what is right for Ohioans."

Several relief measures passed yesterday become part of temp law and will remain in place until the Governor’s March 9, 2020 emergency order is rescinded, or until December 1, 2020, whichever comes first.

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 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.

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.
The Ohio House unanimously concurred on the emergency measures added to Am. Sub. H.B. 197 by the Senate. The bill now goes to Governor DeWine.

For the latest coronavirus updates, prevention information and resources, please visit
of terms
What is session? What is a caucus? Find out about these and other commonly used terms related to the Ohio Senate.