House Bill 1 - HB 1 grants several new protections to victims of domestic violence in Ohio. Namely, the Court of Common pleas would be authorized to issue a civil domestic violence protection order for a dating partner of a person who commits domestic violence. Law enforcement agencies would be required to maintain an index of dating partner protection orders and consent agreements provided by the courts, which is crucial to enforcement of the protection orders. Under the bill, the Attorney General would be required to include in the crime victims' bill or rights pamphlet notice of the right of a dating partner who is a victim of domestic violence to a protection order. Dating partners who are victims of domestic violence would be provided access to domestic violence shelters. The legislation was introduced in the previous General Assembly and passed in the Ohio House, however the bill was not passed in the Senate during lame duck. HB 1 passed unanimously in the House this year and is currently under consideration in the Senate. It is expected to pass the Senate in the near future.
House Bill 27 - Governor Kasich also signed the biennial Workers' Comp budget into law. The original version of the budget included a provision that prohibited BWC from covering undocumented immigrants who are hurt on the job, however the controversial language was removed in the Senate. Several organizations including Policy Matters Ohio, Ohio Association of Justice, Ohio Catholic Conference, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Ohio ACLU, Ohio AFL-CIO, and Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center all testified against the language arguing that the provisions would harm injured workers, as well as taxpayers who would be forced to foot the bill for emergency medical care. Another significant provision that remained in the bill reduces the time to file injury claims from two years to one.
Senate Bill 99 - SB 99 would prohibit the Medicaid program from adding new enrollees to the Medicaid expansion group. The bill does not preclude an individual who meets the requirements for the expansion eligibility group from enrolling, or continuing to be enrolled, in the Medicaid program if the individual is eligible for Medicaid on the basis of being included in another eligibility group. The Senate Health, Human Services, and Medicaid committee has held one hearing on the legislation. It awaits further consideration.
Senate Bill 180 - SB 180 shifts the burden of proof for the affirmative defense of self-defense to the prosecution. Current law allows individuals to claim self-defense as an explanation for their actions, but defendants must prove they acted in self-defense. The bill also includes a Stand Your Ground provision, which eliminates the duty of an individual to retreat before using force in self-defense if the person is in a place where they legally have the right to be. The proposal would also eliminate the requirement that locations post signs warning that guns are prohibited in the establishment. Five Republican senators have signed onto the legislation, which received its first committee hearing last week.
Senate Bill 197 - SB 197 would make aggravated bullying a misdemeanor of the third degree. The legislation sets a disciplinary procedure that includes a tiered series of consequences for the bullying, harassment or intimidation violation as follows: 1st Violation - Warning, 2nd Violation - Peer Mediation, 3rd Violation - Parent Meeting, 4th Violation - In-School Suspension, 5th Violation - Out-of-School Suspension, 6th Violation - District to refer matter to the appropriate prosecuting attorney for prosecution of the matter as a misdemeanor of the third degree. Two Democratic sponsors have signed onto the bill, which has not yet been referred to a standing committee.
House Bill 214 - This month, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion because an unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome. Performing an abortion for these women would be a fourth-degree felony, punishable with up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Women who have abortions in violation of this law would face no penalties. The bill passed largely among party-line votes in the Senate, with three Republican senators joining Democrats against the measure. The bill now awaits Governor Kasich's signature.
Senate Bill 243 - Introduced last month by Senator Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls and referred to the Health, Human Services & Medicaid Committee on January 17th, SB 243 would revise the medicaid cost-sharing process to prevent the Department of Medicaid from requiring copayments from some low-income individuals who have a developmental disability or serious mental illness. This bill would allow medicaid recipients whose sole source of income is social security disability insurance and/or Supplemental security income benefits to present a benefit verification letter to a medicaid provider and be exempted from copayment.
House Bill 468 - Introduced on January 17th by Representatives Rick Perales of Beavercreek and Jenine R. Boyd of Cleveland Heights, HB 468 aims to grant state employees paid leave for the purpose of attending medical examinations and appointments provided through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill would require employers to grant their permanent, full-time, veteran employees up to 96 hours hours of paid leave each year, provided that they give employers reasonable notice as well as proof that their leave was used to attend a medical appointment at the VA.