Ohio’s Coronavirus Legislative Package

(LFC Comments:  Here is an important article from the News-Herald dealing with changes in Ohio law because of the Covid-19 pandemic.)

https://news-herald-oh.newsmemory.com/?token=ZdCGcrznAm4%2b%2fyv0XOb1fJGjsvRL8ByE&product=eEditionNH

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

What you need to know now

Ohio’s coronavirus legislative package intended to support working people, families and businesses, says governor

Here is a look at some of the other provisions in the bill:

Unemployment compensation changes:

Several changes are made to unemployment compensation benefits. Those changes are in effect until the end of the state of emergency declared by Gov. DeWine or Dec. 1, whichever comes first.

The bill suspends the requirement that people wait a week before receiving unemployment benefits during the emergency. Governor DeWine’s executive order states individuals are not required to serve a waiting week in order to receive unemployment insurance. The bill implements the policy specified in the order.

The Director of Job and Family Services is allowed to waive the work search requirement as a condition of receiving benefits during the COVID-19 emergency.

People are also not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if unemployed or unable to return to work because of an order to be isolated or quarantined by an employer, the governor, or health officials.

Tax deadline extension:

The bill extends Ohio’s income tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15, coinciding with a move made recently by the federal government.

As Paul Pahoresky said in a recent News-Herald column, the legislation also causes municipal tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15.

The Ohio legislature several years ago requiring “consistency with State of Ohio and Ohio Municipal Tax filing and payment deadlines,” Pahoresky said. No penalty or interest charges will occur as long as payments are made by the July 15 deadline.

The bill specifies that, for municipal income tax purposes, “employees who must report to a temporary worksite (including their homes) during the emergency period, or within 30 days thereafter, are considered to be working at their principal places of work (which, by law, is where the employee reports for work on ‘a regular and ordinary basis,’ “ according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

Water service:

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to issue an order that requires public water systems to restore service to any customer whose service was disconnected as a result of nonpayment of fees or charges. Public water systems are also prohibited disconnecting customers because of nonpayment of fees and charges.

That order also requires public water systems to waive all fees for connection or reconnection.

There are roughly 4,900 public water systems in Ohio according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. Those systems provide drinking water to more than 11 million people daily. About 30 percent of those people live in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Child care:

The bill suspends child daycare center staff member ratios and maximum group sizes during the state of emergency. This allows child care centers to continue to provide services if they are short-staffed.

It also moves back the date publicly funded child care providers (PFCC) Step Up to Quality rating and improvement system from July 1 to Sept. 1.

“This gives PFCC providers two additional months to be rated before they would no longer be eligible to receive subsidized payments for children,” the Ohio Legislative Service Commission stated. “As of January 2020, 86 percent of programs offering PFCC were quality rated.”

Public meetings:

State and local public bodies are granted permission to conduct public meetings via teleconference or video conference during the state of emergency.

“In order to hold such meetings, the public body must meet the qualifications established in the bill related to providing adequate public notice, methods of public participation, and distribution of information and materials,” the Ohio Legislative Service Commission stated.”

Nursing:

The Ohio Nursing Board can issue temporary registered nurse and licensed practical nurse licenses to applicants who have not passed a licensure exam.

Licenses:

Those with expired motor vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, concealed handgun licenses, and professional license renewals will have until 90 days after the end of the state of emergency or until Dec. 1 (whichever comes first) to renew it.

Excluded from the deadline extension are registrations for violent offenders, arson offenders, and sex offenders.

Schools:

The bill suspends all state-mandated K-12 student assessment for the 2019-20 school year. The bill also directs the Ohio Department of Education to seek a waiver from federal testing requirements. Callender said he believes that waiver will be granted.

School report cards are also waived for the 2019-20 school year. A ‘safe harbor’ is created to ensure data from the 2019-20 school year will have no effect in determining sanctions or penalties.

The bill also allows for public and private schools to grant a diploma to any student on track to graduate who has successfully completed the curriculum or individualized education program at the time schools were ordered closed. Similarly, the bill prohibits school from retaining a student in the third grade under the third grade reading guarantee “unless the principal of the student’s school and the student’s reading teacher agree the student is reading below grade level and not prepared to be promoted to fourth grade,” according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

The bill also allows schools to use distance learning to make up for missed days or hours of instruction missed due to statewide K-12 closures. It also allows licensed special education providers to serve students through tele-health and other electronic communication measures.

The Education Choice scholarship program, known as EdChoice, will remain at the current levels.



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