During my years in public service, I have always found that nothing quite replaces the opportunity to meet with and talk with area residents, whether it be over the phone or at various townhalls, festivals or other community events. This was true throughout my time as an Ottawa County Commissioner, and it has continued as a state representative serving both Erie and Ottawa counties. Indeed, many of the best ideas for legislation come directly from the people. In working with my colleagues in the Ohio House of Representatives, I know they feel the same way.
 
A perfect example of this was on display earlier this year through the passage of House Bill 115. This legislation, coined the “No Labels Initiative,” focuses on improving the interactions, and thus safety, between law enforcement officers and Ohioans who suffer from communications disabilities, such as autism and dementia, among others.
 
At first glance, this probably is not a scenario that many people have given much thought. However, because a couple individuals from around Ohio came forward and shared their concern, legislators were made aware of an issue that impacts families all over the state.
 
One individual from Wood County has two sons who have autism, a condition that can make communication difficult, especially in a stressful situation such as being pulled over by a law enforcement officer. She brought her concern forward, and, in response, House Bill 115 provides what I believe is a common-sense solution.
 
Specifically, the bill gives people with communication disabilities the option to submit a physician-approved verification form that identifies their condition to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That information is only available to state and local law enforcement through the Law Enforcement Automated Data Systems, or LEADS.
 
Therefore, submitting this form is in no way shared with the public. It simply informs law enforcement, in the case of pulling over a driver, that the person in the vehicle has a communication disability, thus giving them valuable information of what to possibly expect.
 
I believe this legislation will benefit Ohio residents and law enforcement officers alike and increase efficiency and safety during roadside stops. And it was made possible simply because a constituent had a good idea and was willing to share it.


 

 
 
 
  
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