Ohio Statehouse

Ohio General Assembly back in session this week

It has been six weeks since the Ohio General Assembly convened to pass HB 197, which contained several emergency protocols for the COVID-19 crisis including the March 17, 2020 primary. Both chambers were in session this week, however, again working on COVID-19 related legislation.

The Ohio Senate amended and passed SB 310 on Wednesday, which will distribute $350 million from the dollars Ohio received in the CARES Act to local governments for the purpose of offsetting COVID-19 expenses. The bill will take effect immediately after Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature, but the Ohio House will have to pass it first. It is scheduled to meet again next week, which is the earliest representatives will be able to take up the legislation.

The Ohio House amended two pieces of legislation to limit the authority of the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. SB 1 was amended to say an order issued by the Ohio Department of Health will expire after 14 days. The order will then go to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review to vote on whether or not it is to be extended beyond the 14 days. SB 55 also was amended to remove criminal penalties attached to the violation of a pandemic-related order from the Ohio Department of Health or a local health department. As early as next week, the Ohio Senate will have to decide whether to concur with the House’s changes or reject them.