Senate District 20
Tim Schaffer
Schaffer: Ohio Senate Passes Bill Providing Emergency Relief for Ohioans During COVID-19 Pandemic
March 25, 2020

COLUMBUS—State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) 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.

“I am proud to have voted for this essential piece of legislation,” said Schaffer. “This bill will provide the State of Ohio the necessary resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and creates temporary, but necessary changes to help Ohioans weather this storm.”
Several relief measures passed today become part of temp law and will be in place until the Governor’s March 9, 2020 emergency order is rescinded, or until December 1, 2020, whichever comes first.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.

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 concurred with the Senate's amendments to  Am.Sub. H.B. 197. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for a signature. Today’s session is archived on

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