Ohio lawmakers approves bill addressing coronavirus impact

Recent nursing graduates could receive a temporary certification to allow them to begin work immediately, and people unable to renew drivers’ licenses or professional licenses wouldn’t be penalized.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 11:54 AM
Updated: Mar 25, 2020 5:59 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mandatory state testing for schools would be ditched this year and Ohioans who didn’t vote in the March 17 primary would have until April 28 to cast an absentee ballot under emergency legislation approved Wednesday by Ohio lawmakers to address the impact of the coronavirus.

The bill also would allow high school seniors to graduate if they were on track already, waive district and school report cards, let school districts use distance learning to make up for missed days caused by the virus-related closure of districts statewide, and freeze the school voucher program at the current level of 517 schools.

Recent nursing graduates could receive a temporary certification to allow them to begin work immediately, and people unable to renew drivers’ licenses or professional licenses wouldn’t be penalized.

The deadline for filing state income taxes would be extended until July 15 under the legislation approved unanimously by the Senate, followed by the House.

The bill heads to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine who’s expected to sign it soon, but not Wednesday.

Seven members of the 33-member Senate were absent after Senate President Larry Obhof told anyone not feeling well to stay away. Many lawmakers were dressed casually, as Obhof had discouraged business attire, “which is cleaned less frequently than casual clothing.”

The Medina Republican warned after the vote that Ohioans face continued tough times.

“The best way that we can strengthen the economy for the future, the best way that we can try to continue to preserve our way of life, is by making sure first and foremost that everybody is safe, and that everybody is healthy,” Obhof said. “I would suggest that none of these choices are easy, none of them are fun.”

Members of the 99-member House were assigned to eight separate rooms to allow for social distancing during deliberation. They walked briefly onto the House floor to cast a voice vote.

“We’ve been in our pajamas so long, it’s nice to put on real clothes,” said Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican.

Setting the April 28 date for absentee ballots didn’t please everyone.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who advocated for a June 2 conclusion, called the move disappointing but said he would follow the Legislature’s decision.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, a former Secretary of State, said he and Gov. Mike DeWine also would have preferred extending voting further.

Rep. Fred Strahorn, a Dayton Democrat, said he was concerned a month wasn’t enough time to carry out the voting.

Obhof said “a significant number of members” in the House and Senate felt it better to end the election sooner rather than later.

Among additional provisions, the bill:

  • Allows the rehiring of recently retired state employees in critical agencies including prisons, youth detention facilities, mental health and addiction services, veterans services and developmental disabilities.
  • Allows open meetings to be conducted electronically as long as the public is notified and can participate.
  • Bans water cut-offs for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Temporarily eliminates a requirement that people filing for unemployment compensation wait a week and look for work.
  • Allows DeWine to approach the state Controlling Board with requests to tap Ohio’s $2.7 billion rainy day fund to keep the budget balanced during the fiscal year that ends June 30.
    • DeWine has warned of a dramatic drop in state revenue as economic activity grinds to a halt in Ohio, with the impact on state coffers expected to begin next month.

Also Wednesday, the Controlling Board added $15.6 million to the Ohio Department of Health budget to provide supplies to front-line healthcare workers. The bipartisan legislative board approves a wide variety of state spending.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
Spencer227631
Jennings224747
Fountain208445
Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1052099

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1221671356
Cuyahoga1070432069
Hamilton781801168
Montgomery50040996
Summit45383909
Lucas40122765
Butler37721570
Stark31437895
Lorain24166473
Warren23885293
Mahoning20905583
Lake20009362
Clermont19441229
Delaware18038130
Licking16124207
Fairfield15708197
Trumbull15585460
Medina14868259
Greene14668236
Clark13634293
Wood12767185
Portage12384196
Allen11328229
Richland11041198
Miami10536214
Muskingum8706127
Wayne8576209
Columbiana8546226
Pickaway8436121
Marion8377135
Tuscarawas8376240
Erie7566154
Hancock6714123
Ross6699146
Geauga6537146
Ashtabula6495165
Scioto6289101
Belmont5626158
Union557647
Lawrence5467102
Jefferson5324147
Huron5307114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5174120
Seneca5124120
Washington5076107
Athens501556
Auglaize475684
Mercer471684
Shelby456090
Knox4387108
Madison422859
Putnam421599
Ashland413188
Fulton409467
Defiance402596
Crawford3872101
Brown386455
Logan372976
Preble370398
Clinton361560
Ottawa356978
Highland347059
Williams326774
Champaign320657
Jackson308451
Guernsey306649
Perry289949
Fayette277848
Morrow275339
Hardin264264
Henry263766
Coshocton259457
Holmes253399
Van Wert239162
Gallia233346
Pike233331
Adams228552
Wyandot227253
Hocking209059
Carroll189247
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105336
Vinton81514
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Hi: 60° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 39°
Fort Wayne
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Feels Like: 34°
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Small chances for isolated drizzle Saturday night & Sunday. Sunday morning starts cold, with the potential for frost area-wide, but warms up to where we should be this time of year.
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