The Ohio Senate unanimously passed emergency legislation aimed at helping Ohioans deal with the coronavirus.
House Bill 197 dealt with a plethora of issues including the state’s primary voting, education, taxes and unemployment benefits.
The Ohio House of Representatives will vote on this bill later today.
Here are the highlights of the bill the Ohio Senate just passed on the primary, tax day, school testing, EdChoice, etc pic.twitter.com/kQecJvDxvP
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) March 25, 2020
Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine delayed Ohio’s primary at the last minute citing coronavirus concerns. To allow more Ohioans to vote HB 197 allows Ohioans to cast absentee ballots by mail until April 28. DeWine postponed in-person voting til June 2.
“This legislation says [the Senate] are going to extend voting for the March 17 election. All the timelines relating to March 17 remain in place, “Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima). “We are merely allowing additional voting for the March 17 election.”
For many high school seniors and school administrators, the COVID-19 outbreak has created many questions about the rest of the school year. Thus, the Ohio Senate tried to answer these questions by allowing high school seniors, who were on pace to graduate before the governor closed schools, to graduate.
Furthermore, HB 197 discontinues school testing and report card requirements for schools for the 2019-2020 school year.
This piece of legislation eliminates limitations on distance learning in schools, and allows for distance learning to be used to make up to three weeks of school.
DeWine has not announced when schools will open up next, but he has hinted that they could remain closed for the rest of the year. Schools are in the second-week of a three-week closure.
As students head into the summer, HB 197 lets schools serve kids meals by waiving state-food processing requirements.
Next year, school voucher levels are expected to grow from 517 schools this year to 1,227 schools. To ease this transition, the Senate wants to keep the schools who are eligible for this program at the current level.
— Ben Garbarek (@BenWSYX6) March 25, 2020
In the Senate’s HB 197 version, the state-income tax will be moved to July 15, so it aligns with what the federal government did.
In addition, the bill follows Mike DeWine’s executive order and waives requirements to qualify for unemployment insurance such as a one-week waiting period and people needing to look for a job while getting these government benefits.
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