State legislature passes emergency COVID-19 measures

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate amended COVID-19 measures into HB 197 and both chambers passed the bill unanimously. While there aren’t any ag specific provisions, there are many changes that impact daily life, such as a freeze on all state-issued licenses expiring through the end of the COVID-19 restriction time period or December 1, 2020, whichever comes first, including drivers licenses.

Below are the highlights of what the state legislature passed in regard to COVID-19 measures:

Election

  • March 17 primary was not canceled (Ohio Department of Health closed polls).
  • Extend voting for the March 17 election by mail only.
  • Ballots must be postmarked by April 28.
  • Ohio Secretary of State will send out a postcard to all registered voters in Ohio with instructions to request an absentee ballot.
  • Voters don’t have to wait for a postcard to request a ballot.

Amending tax code deadline

  • Authorizes the tax commissioner to extend state tax filing and payment deadlines for the duration of the governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, giving the tax department the ability to set Ohio’s deadline to match the new federal deadline of July 15.
  • Allows employees working from home during the emergency to be considered working at the employer’s principal place of business for municipal tax filing.

Schools

  • Exempts schools and other entities from food processing requirements to allow for continued student meal delivery.
  • All school work online, so they are waiving the 10-day limit for credit law
  • Special education can provide service through telehealth.
  • Eliminating K-12 testing and district report cards for this school year.
  • Waiving usual requirements to permit high school seniors who were on track before the crisis to graduate.
  • Freezing EdChoice vouchers to the same list of buildings eligible in the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Suspends the staff to child ratio requirements and maximum group sizes at child-care centers.

Modifying unemployment compensation

  • Waives requirement the claimant serve one week waiting period before receiving benefits.
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services may waive work requirement for claimants.
  • Claimant will not be disqualified for unemployment if unemployed or unable to return to work because of an order of isolation/quarantine.

Prohibit public water disconnections

Public water systems to:

  • Prohibit disconnection for non payment.
  • Restore service for disconnection for non payment.
  • Waive all fees for connection/reconnection.   

The bill contains an emergency clause, which means the bill takes effect immediately upon Governor DeWine’s signature.