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Ohio Legislature Passes COVID-19 Bill With Election Extension

The Ohio AFL-CIO recognizes the leadership shown from the Governor’s office as well as the bipartisanship in the State House during this Covid-19 crisis. We believe this bill is a great first step in protecting the working people of Ohio, but we know more needs to be done. We will continue to offer support to the Governor’s Administration as well as the Ohio House and Senate leadership teams to ensure all workers deemed as essential have safe working conditions and those workers laid off have the resources needed to provide the basic necessities until Ohio and our country is back open for business.

Below is a summary of the bill: (click here for a downloadable PDF format of the summary)

Ensuring Ohioans’ water supplies will not be cut off
The bill prohibits public water disconnections during the pandemic.

Removes barriers to unemployment compensation
The bill waives the first week waiting period, changes eligibility to include COVID-19 related unemployment situations and waives the work search requirement.

Extends voting for Ohio’s primary election
The bill extends absentee voting by mail for the March 17, 2020 primary election to April 28, 2020 and authorizes funding to pay associated costs.

Waives K-12 standardized testing and school report cards and eases restrictions on distance learning and permits seniors to graduate
The bill waives state testing and report cards for the 2019-2020 school year, creates a safe harbor from sanctions for schools and permits seniors to graduate if their school determines they are on track to do so, among other provisions. The bill also removes limits on K-12 distance learning and allows for tele-health options for special needs students.

Provides continuity for student lunch program
The bill provides flexibility to allow for continued student meal delivery.

Provides flexibility for teacher-child ratios in pandemic care facilities
The bill suspends the staff to child ratio requirements and maximum group sizes at operating child-care centers.

Extends certain license expiration dates
The bill extends the validity of licenses issued by state agencies and political subdivisions and provides a 90-day window for renewal.

Removes barriers for essential government and health workers
The bill provides greater flexibility for Ohio’s nurses and waives rehire waiting time for critical agency workers.

Ensures flexibility and public access for public meetings
The bill permits state boards and commissions, local and county governments and higher education boards to operate meetings electronically so long as the public is aware and can participate electronically.

Extends Ohio’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020
The bill extends the date for estimated payments, aligning with the federal change and waiving interest payments in addition to already waived penalties.

“The impact of the coronavirus has touched the lives and daily routines of all Ohioans,” said Speaker Larry Householder. “We believe this legislation will help state and local leaders manage through this global pandemic.”

The work may not be done for state lawmakers though. Several House Democrats said emergency paid sick leave needs to be approved. Householder said the state’s budget will be thrown off course with the shock to the economy. Those may be the next issues lawmakers will begin addressing.

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