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.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152907

Reported Deaths: 4783
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27283615
Cuyahoga17603657
Hamilton13340321
Montgomery7993166
Lucas7377364
Butler6151112
Summit5393252
Warren313649
Mahoning3114282
Marion311447
Stark2946175
Pickaway268445
Lorain234286
Delaware232821
Fairfield214654
Licking196063
Columbiana195180
Wood194273
Trumbull1921132
Clark185341
Clermont176123
Lake166051
Greene153634
Medina149339
Miami147652
Allen147372
Portage117766
Mercer113919
Erie96047
Tuscarawas94320
Wayne94268
Richland94119
Ross90426
Madison85512
Darke81144
Athens7402
Geauga73349
Hancock73110
Belmont72427
Lawrence68622
Shelby66910
Ashtabula66248
Auglaize62511
Putnam62523
Sandusky58720
Huron5727
Union5512
Scioto5287
Seneca49514
Ottawa47230
Muskingum4553
Preble44716
Holmes3999
Jefferson3424
Henry33715
Defiance33212
Champaign3143
Logan3143
Clinton30512
Perry3039
Fulton2991
Brown2923
Knox28915
Jackson2667
Washington26323
Morrow2622
Hardin25713
Ashland2484
Crawford2486
Coshocton23511
Fayette2346
Highland2313
Williams2163
Wyandot21512
Pike2040
Gallia19713
Meigs17711
Guernsey1748
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1374
Van Wert1283
Paulding1130
Monroe11018
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton483
Noble350
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Few Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntington
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Few Showers Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events