by J.D. Davidson
Ohio businesses would be able to continue to operate during a public health emergency if a bill passed by the Ohio House clears the Senate and is signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
House Bill 215 would require businesses to comply with safety standards from government orders or regulations to stay open, but it does provide an avenue to keep businesses up in running in times of emergency.
“Small business owners had their worlds turned upside down when they were forced to shut down last year,” Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said. “Getting this bill signed into law will send a strong message that Ohio will remain open for business and keep our economy moving forward.”
The Business Fairness Act, which was passed in the House on Thursday, designates all businesses as essential. Cross, along with Rep. Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, said it promotes fairness among big and small businesses by giving any business the ability to maintain operations during a public health emergency.
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Less regulation: The House also approved House Bill 252, which allows the state to join the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact.
The compact removes regulations and expands access to care and increases employment opportunities by allowing those professionals to work in multiple states, either in person or through telehealth, according to sponsor Rep. Andrea White, R-Kettering.
“Ohio is facing a critical shortage of speech and hearing professionals, especially in schools and nursing homes,” White said. “This legislation supports Ohioans of all ages who face limited access to these important health care services in underserved and geographically isolated parts of the state.”
The compact allows states to exchange information, including licensure and disciplinary services.
The bill passed 93-0 and heads to the Senate for consideration.
Protecting natural gas: A bill that prevents local governments from limiting the use of natural gas and propane passed the House, 64-32.
Sponsor Rep. Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said House Bill 201 safeguards the state’s economy and communities should welcome the benefits of natural gas and propane.
“In Ohio, we are fortunate to have an abundant supply of natural gas,” Stephens said. “It is an affordable, reliable and environmentally friendly source of energy for millions of people across our state.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Mike DeWine” by Vivien McClain Photography CC 4.0.