Two Cupp-Sponsored Bills Pass Ohio House
Bills address medical malpractice issues and probate, estate and trust matters
July 02, 2018
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Representative Bob Cupp (R-Lima) had a rare double-hitter this past week when two bills he sponsored passed the Ohio House on the same day. H.B. 7 clarifies areas of medical malpractice litigation, and H.B. 595 updates provisions of Ohio’s probate and trust law.


House Bill 7 addresses a variety of issues in medical malpractice law to both clarify existing law and to add new provisions relating to liability standards for emergency care provided in the event of a mass disaster and the hospital discharge of patients with potentially serious mental health issues. Additionally, the bill encourages more prompt communications between patients, their families and the medical care provider in the event of an unexpected adverse outcome, and prevents insurers and government agencies from creating legal new malpractice standards.


The probate, estate and trust bill, H. B. 595, updates aspects of estate and trust law and management. Among the provisions, the bill authorizes probate courts to create trusts to hold and manage funds of minor beneficiaries for wrongful death awards up to the age of 25 instead of the current 18 years. It also creates consistency as to whom a county coroner must notify for disposition of both the body and property of a deceased person and authorizes the creation of multi-county probate court guardianship services boards to permit two or more counties to work together to provide guardianship services more effectively and efficiently.


“While the provisions of these bills may seem somewhat complex, they will impact the lives of many Ohioans. It’s important to provide legal standards to prevent disputes and, if disputes do arise, clear rules to help resolve them. Both bills further those goals,” Cupp said.


The bills will now go to the Ohio Senate for its consideration.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) applauded Governor John Kasich for signing into law three bills sponsored by Hambley.


House Bill 8
House Bill 8, which Hambley joint-sponsored with Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton), will protect certain personal information pertaining to a minor who was an occupant on a school bus at the time it was involved in a traffic accident. State and federal law currently protects this information when the child is on school property, however, it does not protect certain information when it relates to school transportation. Police reports will still include this data, but the minor’s information must be redacted when the incident is reported.


The issue was brought forward by a constituent in Rep. Hambley’s district in which a child was a passenger on a school bus that was involved in a traffic accident. Following the incident, the child’s personal information, such as their birthday, home address and phone number, was made public.


House Bill 21
House Bill 21 requires community schools, instead of the school district itself, to confirm the residency of its students, which will improve accuracy for the allocation of state funds. Community schools must review residency records monthly and provide the Ohio Department of Education with an enrollment report annually.


House Bill 438
House Bill 438 improves policies governing Ohio’s educational service centers (ESC) in order to better serve local school districts. The bill allows governing boards of ESCs that serve only one county to add members to their governing board to represent the local school district that the ESC serves. This simply applies the same authority given to multi-county ESCs to single-county ESCs to ensure full and adequate representation on the board. It also allows a local school district to sever its territory from one ESC in order to join an adjacent ESC. This only applies to those districts who had previously taken these steps prior to 2011 through a portion of the Ohio Code that has since been repealed.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Keith Faber (R-Celina) applauded the passage of legislation that regulates and updates the management of e-schools by the Ohio House of Representatives. The legislation strives to provide transparency and accountability for taxpayers and for students and their families.


As of 2016, e-schools served about 180,000 students across the country, providing a non-traditional educational option for many families. The initiatives approved during yesterday’s House session seek to maintain this option for the families that need it, while also ensuring they are regulated appropriately as to provide quality education for Ohio’s students.


Recently, Rep. Faber and Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) championed House Bill 707, legislation that placed additional oversight and stronger guardrails around e-schools. A number of these provisions were then incorporated into Amended Substitute Senate Bill 216, sponsored by State Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima).


Provisions were also included in House Bill 87, a bill providing instructions for distributing funds returned by schools to the state, sponsored by Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson).


Both of these bills were approved by the full House yesterday.


“I am pleased the legislature promptly took up and implemented these provisions, and I encourage my colleagues to consider the remaining portions of these bills soon,” said Rep. Faber. “I look forward to meaningful discussions as to new funding models outlined in the amendments.”


The provisions placed into Am. Sub. S.B. 216 are as follows:


• Allows for liability indemnification to the state. This works to prevent a person from maintaining a “two-way” interest in both the state and the non-profit that runs the school.
• In an effort to improve communication and clarity between e-schools and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), the bill creates a joint study committee to hear from witnesses across the state and the country on e-school best practices. The committee would consider an e-school funding system based on student competency. The committee would also examine current expense categories for financial disclosure statements.
• Reduces from 105 to 72 the number of consecutive hours of learning opportunities a community school student must fail to participate in before being automatically withdrawn from the school.
• This provision requires ODE to further define certain industry terms, including “documentation of online learning” and “idle time,” in order to create a more lucid and uniform standard across the state. These definitions will then be recommended to the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC), which will coordinate with ODE for public hearings.


Provisions incorporated into H.B. 87 are as follows:


• Allows the Auditor of State to be consulted on ODE policies that pertain to e-school hardware and software. This provision allows the office to contribute to policy developments while eliminating the conflict of interest, as currently the auditor is required to be part of policy adoption on which the auditor also audits compliance.
• ODE will be required to create rules specifically regarding standards for learning management software utilized by e-schools.


These bills will now go to the governor for his consideration.

 
 
  
 
Ohio House Passes Legislation To Preserve Healthy Lake Erie
"Clean Lake 2020 Plan" invests $36 million toward supporting Ohio's Great Lake
June 28, 2018
 
 

COLUMBUS—Spearheaded by the work of State Representative Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton), the Ohio House of Representatives yesterday passed Senate Bill 299, legislation that makes critical investments to support and preserve the health of Lake Erie and its tributaries.


“I was happy to vote in support of this legislation which is the product of many hours of hard work between myself, Senator Gardner, and stakeholders from the agriculture, environmental and manufacturing communities,” said Arndt, who sponsored companion legislation in the House with State Representative John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and championed Senate Bill 299 through the committee process and on the House floor.


Senate Bill 299, also known as the “Clean Lake 2020 Plan,” provides more than $36 million in additional funding for a variety of programs aimed at supporting the lake and reducing toxic algae. Nearly two-thirds of that funding will go to the Department of Agriculture for soil and water conservation districts in the Lake Erie Basin and to the Water Phosphorous Program for activities such as soil testing, tributary monitoring, water and drainage management, and an agricultural phosphorous reduction loan program.


The remaining funding will be invested in the Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Sea Grant Program for the construction of a new lab space at the Stone Laboratory and to buy in-lake monitoring equipment.


“Lake Erie is one of Ohio's most precious resources and it is our responsibility to protect it, not only for ourselves, but most importantly for our children and grandchildren,” Arndt added.


“Senate Bill 299 is a piece of legislation that reflects our intent to be good stewards of the land and water while, prudently and simultaneously, using these resources to promote economic development,” said Rep. Patterson. “As one who represents a district that is tied to the lake, with a diverse agricultural economy dependent of the lake, I am honored to support this legislation and enthusiastic passage.”


Sponsored by State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), Senate Bill 299 passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It now awaits Governor John Kasich’s consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representatives Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) today applauded the House for passing legislation they jointly sponsored that provides another option to Ohio’s courts when dealing with juveniles charged with possessing sexually explicit digital material, or engaging in “sexting” with a minor.


The bill takes into account the growing dilemma of juveniles who engage in “sexting” with other juveniles and the charges that may be filed by prosecutors by law. House Bill 355 prohibits anyone under the age of 19 from creating, distributing, or possessing sexually explicit digital material that depicts a minor through a phone or computer.


The law serves as an alternative option for prosecutors when determining whether to charge the offender with a felony, which has lifelong implications, or nothing at all. Offenders under the age of 19, and in which the victim was less than four years younger than the offender and over the age of 13, would then be eligible for a charge which carries with it a mandatory diversion program, which would cover a host of issues related to sexting, educating our youth about the dangers of doing so.


Provisions were placed in the bill to ensure that prosecutors can charge a more serious offense under qualifying circumstances if they want to pursue a heightened charge, rather than the diversion program.


Rep. Hill introduced the legislation after an incident in his district where a young man committed suicide after he faced potentially felonious charges from sexting with his girlfriend. Rep. Hill hopes the bill will give these individuals a second chance. As scenarios differ case-by-case, House Bill 355 will give prosecutors more options to consider the facts of what happened and seek an appropriate punishment.


“I’m happy to see this bill pass that will give young people a second chance when they have made a stupid mistake,” Rep. Hill said. “I do not condone the activity, but I don’t believe a young person should be a felon or sex offender as a result of a first offense for sexting.”


Rep. Rezabek utilized his knowledge of the juvenile court system while working on the legislation, and hopes to allow prosecutors to save the felony charges for the truly heinous individuals who are preying on juveniles, and possessing or distributing child pornography.


“I’m very proud the House has passed this piece of legislation,” Rep. Rezabek said. “Along with Chairman Hill, we were able to see his vision through in helping juveniles who made a mistake to fix and correct their actions.”


The bill will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
 
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Representatives Nathan Manning (R-N. Ridgeville) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) today announced passage of their bipartisan, jointly-sponsored legislation by the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 497 seeks to prevent instances of what is known as “revenge pornography” by penalizing nonconsensual distribution of private sexual images, as long as intent existed to harm the subject of the image. House Bill 497 also allows for civil action against the convicted offender.


Under the bill, civil action may be filed for a temporary restraining order or for such matters as compensatory damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. House Bill 497 also prevents an institution of higher learning from withholding financial assistance on the grounds that a student was a victim of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, and also prevents such institutions from disciplining that student for the same reason. The bill extends these protections to licensing authorities, preventing them from refusing to license or to renew a license for victims.


“This important legislation will make needed changes to our civil and criminal code to provide victims the resources to fight back and also deter others from being victims in the future,” Manning said.


“The outcome of the malicious distribution of private sexual images can cause a multitude of personal and professional issues, in addition to the humiliation and embarrassment a victim may feel when their most intimate exchanges are shared with the world,” said Rogers. “This legislation would join Ohio with these other states to extend protections to thousands of Ohioans who would otherwise have no legal protections in these cases.”


House Bill 497 classifies the first offense as a first degree misdemeanor, and under certain conditions, distributing material to juveniles would classify as a third degree misdemeanor. Under the bill, repeat offenses may also be classified as felonies in certain circumstances.


Having passed out of the House, House Bill 497 awaits consideration by the Ohio Senate.


 

 
 
  
 
State Reps. Gavarone, Manning Announce Passage Of Bill Revising Ohio Teacher Evaluations
OTES updates aim to provide more accurate, helpful feedback
June 27, 2018
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Representatives Nathan Manning (R-N. Ridgeville) and Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) today applauded passage of their jointly-sponsored legislation by the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 540 seeks to create a more accurate, improved method for teacher evaluations, and requires the Ohio Department of Education to utilize the official recommendations of the Educator Standards Board to revise the current Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). The revised OTES would receive a one-year trial period.


“Updating these evaluations came as a result of recommendations from teachers, administrators, schools boards, higher education members and members of the General Assembly,” Rep. Gavarone said. “I am proud of the work that went into establishing these modifications that ensure educators will be provided with reliable and relevant information to help them meet the specific needs of their students.”


“House Bill 540 is much needed legislation that will streamline the process of how we evaluate our teachers in Lorain County and across Ohio,” Rep. Manning said. “This will allow teachers to focus more on the growth and educational development of their students rather than test scores, while also ensuring educators are properly assessed.”


The recommendations aim to create a process providing teachers with feedback that is specific and helpful, while more accurately reflecting necessary improvement. Among other updates to the OTES rubric, student growth would no longer count for 50 percent of an evaluation, but two kinds of “high quality” data utilized instead as measures of student learning.


Shared attribution would be removed from the rubric, deemed an inaccurate measurement of performance and student growth. Alternative framework components would be officially added, meaning teachers could still be evaluated by such indicators as student surveys and the need for a separate alternative framework eliminated.


The recommendations suggest that the timing and structure of observations be more in tune with teachers, encouraging them to focus on improvement and growth. ESB also says that teachers who are rated “accomplished” or “skilled” must be provided with off-year resources for professional growth, requiring them to attend conferences and to submit professional growth plans.


House Bill 540 was drafted in close partnership with the Ohio Education Association (OEA), ensuring prioritization of teachers’ needs. The bill is supported by the OEA and the Ohio Educator Standards Board. Having passed out of the House, House Bill 540 now awaits consideration by the Ohio Senate.


 

 
 
  


COLUMBUS—The Ohio House today voted with bipartisan support for House Bill 572, legislation that allows county developmental disabilities board employees who perform full-time services in a school to be eligible for a full year of service with the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) if they are employed throughout the academic year, which is only nine months.


“These employees work tirelessly for disabled students and it is important that they continue to be granted the same service credit for their pension that teachers are,” said Scherer.


While these employees have been granted a full year of credit previously, it was recently determined that this was not a practice that was explicitly allowed in Ohio law. State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) introduced the legislation in order to rectify the reversal of a 30-year policy.


“This bill was a provision included in another OPERS bill that I was asked to introduce in order to start a discussion,” Scherer explained. “After listening to many constituents and others throughout the state, I am pleased that the original bill is not moving forward. However, this issue in particular emerged as a common-sense policy that codifies a long standing practice which needs to be clarified in the law.”


According to committee testimony, by not making this change for these employees working for developmental disability boards, they must work 36 years to earn a full 30 years of service. By making these employees eligible for a full year of credit, the legislation establishes parity in the retirement service credit system.


House Bill 572 will now proceed to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) announced the passage of House Bill 349, legislation that adds increased protections for volunteer search and rescue (SAR) dogs and horses, bringing punishment for their mistreatment up to par with that of law enforcement animals.


Ohio has a number of professional search and rescue volunteers who answer calls from law enforcement to assist in search and rescue activities. This can include missing persons situations or a human remains detection search. While the majority of search and rescue missions are lower risk when compared to that of a police animal, there is always the possibility that an individual may wish to obstruct the search efforts or even bring harm to the animals performing this important task.

“The idea for House Bill 349 was brought to me by a constituent, Rob Davis, who is an expert in search and rescue activities,” said LaTourette. “It is particularly rewarding to pass legislation that comes directly at the request of a constituent who is able to be provide vital knowledge to make sure the legislation would be effective when enacted.”

Dr. Rob Davis and his wife Beth, both certified professional volunteer search and rescue technicians and K-9 handlers, operate Northeast Ohio Search and Rescue, a 501(c)(3) public charity. They are active in providing SAR responses, and focus on SAR education and advocacy.

“Across Ohio, volunteer search and rescue professionals and their canine and equine partners assist law enforcement agencies in helping reunite lost and missing persons with their families. These brave dogs and horses often face the same risks of their law enforcement counterparts,” said Dr. Davis. “House Bill 349 offers SAR dogs and horses the same protection from interference and harm as that offered to police dogs and horses. House Bill 349 is an important step forward for Ohio in recognizing the value of SAR professionals in our state.”

House Bill 349 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
 
 
 


COLUMBUS—State Representative Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) today applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation he joint sponsored with Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton). House Bill 479 would expand access to affordable prescription drugs by increasing price transparency and ensuring a fair payment process for pharmacies and patients.


House Bill 479 seeks to reduce the administrative burden placed on pharmacists by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which act as third-party intermediaries between pharmacies and health insurers. By requiring that patients are informed of the most affordable payment option for their prescriptions, PBMs will be unable to direct the pharmacy to charge the patient more than the cash price of a drug. By inflating this cost to patients, PBMs take a portion of the patient’s co-pay, driving up costs.


The legislation also prohibits PBMs from including a provision in their contract with a pharmacy that forbids pharmacists from informing patients of the cheapest method to purchase their prescriptions. For example, if a copayment is more than the price of a drug without insurance, the pharmacist must inform the patient. The patient may then decide to pay less for their prescription without going through their insurance.


“The issues of price transparency and rising drug costs have been a priority of mine since entering office,” said Lipps. “For too long, PBMs have used predatory practices to target consumers and independent pharmacies. I am proud Ohio is taking a lead role to end these deceiving practices, while improving transparency and lowering out-of-pocket drug costs,” said Lipps.


The practices of PBMs have been under increasing scrutiny from state lawmakers and the media across the nation in recent months. Among other reforms, House Bill 479 is a patient-focused bill that works to keep patients informed on the price of their medication, increasing transparency and ultimately reducing the cost of prescription drugs.


The bill passed the House unanimously and now awaits discussion in the Senate.

 
 
  
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State Rep. Sprague's Bill Prohibiting Mandatory Overtime For Hospital Nurses Clears Ohio House

 

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