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: 324537

Reported Deaths: 5594
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44186858
Lake28094462
Allen18660301
Elkhart17663230
St. Joseph17256234
Hamilton13612170
Vanderburgh10028121
Tippecanoe896729
Porter855386
Johnson6718169
Hendricks6412158
Vigo625889
Monroe550450
Clark531078
Madison5239122
Delaware5075103
LaPorte481196
Kosciusko475941
Howard364177
Bartholomew335365
Warrick335372
Floyd329478
Wayne325678
Marshall311846
Cass303931
Grant287150
Hancock272957
Noble264946
Henry256437
Boone255054
Dubois245631
Dearborn228231
Jackson226334
Morgan221243
Gibson194926
Knox193021
Shelby192656
Clinton185421
DeKalb183932
Lawrence183849
Wabash172821
Adams172422
Miami170815
Daviess163145
Fayette153734
Steuben153414
Jasper151713
Montgomery149327
Harrison147624
LaGrange146131
Ripley145815
Whitley142314
Huntington133510
Decatur132543
Putnam131128
White131022
Wells130130
Clay130023
Randolph128121
Posey125816
Jefferson124116
Scott114520
Greene106053
Sullivan102716
Jay101913
Starke95022
Jennings90414
Spencer8908
Fulton87519
Perry85121
Fountain8228
Washington8127
Franklin73427
Carroll71913
Orange70028
Vermillion6607
Owen6468
Tipton60327
Parke6026
Newton57812
Rush5708
Blackford56612
Pike52719
Pulaski41815
Martin3705
Benton3643
Brown3574
Crawford3081
Union2782
Switzerland2655
Warren2562
Ohio2387
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 399808

Reported Deaths: 6346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin52652672
Cuyahoga39132746
Hamilton31491372
Montgomery21355242
Butler15768149
Lucas15301420
Summit14667330
Stark9780209
Warren878777
Mahoning7985301
Lake752566
Lorain7149106
Clermont622953
Delaware597337
Licking589977
Trumbull5867148
Fairfield576464
Greene559568
Clark5438129
Allen518389
Medina496557
Marion489359
Wood4861108
Miami456268
Pickaway410548
Portage385574
Columbiana376599
Tuscarawas360567
Richland349639
Wayne340894
Mercer299248
Muskingum262510
Hancock257240
Ross251259
Darke246160
Auglaize243935
Erie240868
Ashtabula240454
Putnam234549
Geauga227051
Union20838
Scioto204316
Lawrence201139
Shelby199917
Athens19984
Seneca192919
Belmont176729
Madison172019
Sandusky166429
Huron163022
Preble162521
Defiance149923
Holmes146939
Knox139719
Logan139018
Jefferson138113
Fulton135826
Crawford134417
Washington133427
Ottawa128830
Ashland117328
Williams11479
Clinton113115
Highland108118
Brown10755
Hardin107019
Henry105423
Champaign10535
Jackson102012
Van Wert99918
Fayette97317
Guernsey96814
Morrow9682
Coshocton91015
Perry86613
Adams83813
Gallia81615
Pike7921
Wyandot76118
Paulding70012
Hocking68516
Noble65124
Carroll53210
Meigs41712
Monroe34921
Morgan2925
Harrison2433
Vinton2326
Unassigned00
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