The most important part of being a state representative is to ensure a clear and effective channel of communication between myself and my constituents of Wood County. Oftentimes, with this assurance, great ideas for legislation can come directly from everyday Ohioans, truly influencing the day-to-day issues and struggles that can be addressed from the state level of government. Exactly this kind of exchange recently occurred and became the impetus behind House Bill 115, which I recently introduced with my colleague, Representative Scott Wiggam.


The idea for the “No Labels Initiative” was brought to my attention by Jenny Hughes, a constituent from Walbridge, who has two sons who have been diagnosed with autism. House Bill 115 would create a voluntary database of individuals with a communication disability to be utilized by law enforcement. Administered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the database would be available to law enforcement officers through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS).


The designation would be used through LEADS in a similar manner as individuals who carry a concealed carry license. Before approaching a vehicle, an officer may run its registration and will be notified if a driver or passenger has registered as having a communication disability. This will help improve communication between the officer and the individual, preventing possible misunderstandings and improving the safety and security of both parties in such situations.


Additionally, House Bill 115 seeks to remove the stigma behind being labeled as a person with a disability by keeping the information private, rather than having a visible marker on the license plate or driver’s license. The ultimate goal of this legislation is to enhance the working knowledge of our law enforcement officers while giving those with a communication disability an equal opportunity to be fairly heard and understood. The database would be available to those with autism, a hearing disability, or another communication disability, and individuals can voluntarily enroll with the submission of a verification form and certification by a physician.


House Bill 115 is a common-sense, responsible measure that simultaneously makes our officers more informed and better prepared to handle particular situations while taking steps to end the stigma associated with those who have inhibitions when it comes to communication. Being pulled over can be stressful enough, but this bill ultimately seeks to eliminate some of those stressors for Ohio’s disabled population.

 
 
 
  
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Representative Gavarone Sworn In As State Representative Of The 3rd House District

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) was sworn in yesterday as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives for the 132nd General Assembly. She represents the 3rd Ohio House District, which comprises all of Wood County.