An important part of the success of the House Republican Caucus is to have a focused, member-driven policy platform that serves as the guiding principle behind priority legislation. Earlier this year, our caucus unveiled the Buckeye Pathway, our policy agenda for the 132nd General Assembly. With sound and responsive legislation directed by the Pathway, we can ensure that the state of Ohio and its citizens are set up for a successful journey, now and into the future.

The Buckeye Pathway is founded from three overarching objectives: to improve Ohio’s economic environment, enhance opportunities for all Ohioans, and strengthen families and communities. These tenets do not stand alone; rather, they are fundamentally related, improving upon one goal will have a positive impact on the others. So far this legislative term, the Ohio House has passed many bills that align with the Pathway, all striving to give Ohioans a better quality of life.

One significant piece of legislation that we recently passed unanimously out of the House was House Bill 115, which focuses on communications disabilities. Inspired by concerns from constituents in their districts, my colleagues Representatives Theresa Gavarone and Scott Wiggam sponsored legislation that would establish a voluntary program through the Ohio Department of Public Safety to help enable effective communication between law enforcement and individuals with communications disabilities, like autism.

Under House Bill 115, an individual may voluntarily submit a verification form, signed by their physician, to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to be designated as a person with a communication disability. This information is then made available to state and local law enforcement through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS). It’s crucial to note that this database is only accessible by law enforcement, eliminating visible labels on a driver’s license or license plate and keeping personal information private. However, with the availability of this information, law enforcement officers are more aware, allowing them to rely on their training for how to best serve disabled individuals when carrying out a traffic stop.

This legislation seeks to strengthen families and communities, fulfilling one of the objectives of the Buckeye Pathway. Perhaps even more importantly, House Bill 115 was constituent-driven and inspired, which, as your state representative, is our ultimate goal in serving as your voice at the Ohio Statehouse. In today’s society, effective and helpful communication between law enforcement and the public is most needed. The bill will help prevent miscommunication during traffic stops by better informing our police men and women, promoting safety and encouraging a stronger relationship between citizens and our police.

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