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Rep. Robinson issues statement as coronavirus relief bill signed into law

Says changes will benefit workers, families, and businesses affected by pandemic
March 27, 2020
Phillip M. Robinson, Jr. News

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) today applauded Gov. Mike DeWine as he signed into law amended House Bill (HB) 197, the emergency COVID-19 relief omnibus package, which will provide needed supports to working people, families and businesses in Ohio amid the coronavirus outbreak. It passed both legislative chambers unanimously Wednesday.

“We took bipartisan action to alleviate some immediate kitchen-table concerns of many Ohioans, such as addressing our children’s school situation through distance learning, prohibiting water shut-offs, extending the deadline for filing taxes, expanding unemployment, and giving Medicaid needed resources and flexibility to address COVID-19,” said Rep. Robinson. “This is only the beginning. As we continue to see the health and economic impact COVID-19 and social distancing is having on Ohio, I look forward to continuing my work with all of my colleagues in both parties to address these issues.”

The omnibus package includes aspects and even exact provisions from Rep. Robinson’s and Rep. John Patterson’s (D-Jefferson) recently introduced education legislative package addressing the concerns of schools from the closures from the COVID-19 public health crisis, HB 585 and HB 587, which address waiving state education requirements and placing a moratorium on the EdChoice expansion.

Amended HB 197 also contains several long-held Democratic priorities, such as expanded unemployment benefits for Ohioans out of work as a result of the coronavirus, an extension of absentee voting for the Ohio primary to April 28, and commonsense solutions to support K-12 education and healthcare access for all Ohioans.

Other key components of amended HB 197 include:

  • Waiving state testing for the 19-20 school year and allowing students to graduate who were already on track to do so;
  • Limiting EdChoice school buildings for 20-21 to those eligible in 19-20;
  • Allowing schools to use distance learning to make up for missed days or hours of instruction caused by statewide K-12 closures;
  • Exempting schools from food processing requirements to ensure children have access to nutrition even if their school is closed;
  • Allowing licensed special education providers to serve students through tele-health and other electronic communications methods;
  • Moving state tax deadline from April 15 to July 15;
  • Prohibiting water shutoffs for Ohio consumers during crisis;
  • Suspending staff-to-child ratios and maximum group sizes at child-care centers;
  • Giving the Director of Medicaid additional flexibility to support the health care workforce and providers during crisis;
  • Allowing recent nursing graduates to obtain a temporary license to practice prior to passing the licensure examination;
  • Extending validity of state licenses and providing a 90-day renewal period;
  • Permitting public bodies to meet electronically as long as the public has ability to participate as well;

With the governor’s signing, the bill becomes effective immediately.