Ohio General Assembly Passes Emergency Pandemic Response Measure

Government Relations

The Ohio General Assembly returned to Columbus today to pass legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a number of direct actions taken to combat the pandemic and multiple regulatory relief measures added as well.

The Ohio Senate met first this morning to add the pandemic response measures in a floor amendment to House Bill 197, a technical corrections bill that enacts a cleanup of the state’s tax code (e.g., correcting typos and updating cross references). House Bill 197 had already passed the Ohio House of Representatives, been voted out of a Senate committee and was waiting for a Senate floor vote. The Senate voted unanimously, 26-0, to approve the measure with an emergency clause.

With the addition of the new language on the Senate floor, the bill was returned to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote of the members. This afternoon, the House also approved the bill with the pandemic response measures included by a vote of 91-0. The inclusion of the emergency clause means the bill takes effect upon the Governor’s signature.

The Senate majority’s summary of the amendments can be found here, and the fully integrated bill can be found online at the General Assembly’s website.

Highlights of the pandemic measures include:

  • Barring disconnection of public water service;
  • Extending voting by mail to allow counting of absentee ballots postmarked by April 28 – this is in place of the Governor and Secretary of State’s proposal to hold an in-person primary on June 2;
  • Making allowances for people whose licenses of various kinds will expire during the emergency;
  • Granting local governments flexibility to meet remotely, with provisions for public participation;
  • Waiving state testing and report cards for this academic year;
  • Lifting the cap on granting credit for distance learning;
  • Waiving usual requirements to permit high school seniors who were on track before the crisis to graduate;
  • Freezing EdChoice scholarship eligibility at current levels;
  • Expanding eligibility for unemployment compensation – codifying the Governor’s actions in temporary law;
  • Aligning the state tax filing deadline to the delayed federal deadline of July 15;
  • Temporarily tolling criminal and civil statutes of limitation. 

Calfee invites you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Center containing First Alerts to help guide you through the challenges faced by individuals and organizations as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak. We are committed to helping you meet the diverse and complex challenges and navigate the disruptions caused by this pandemic. Please check the COVID-19 Resource Center regularly for the latest updates, or subscribe to receive the most up-to-date Alerts sent directly to your email inbox.

For additional information on this topic, please contact your regular Calfee attorney or the author(s) listed below:



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