The Ohio Legislature unanimously passed emergency legislation last week in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. The bill became effective with the Governor’s signature on March 27. Most of the provisions added to House Bill (HB) 197 are temporary and will sunset at the end of this public health emergency.
- Synopsis of the emergency provisions adopted by the legislature in HB 197 (PDF, 11 pages)
- Download final version of HB 197 (PDF, 350 pages)
KEY PROVISIONS THAT AFFECT PUBLIC LIBRARIES:
Flexibility in Open Meetings Law
The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation (House Bill 197) making several temporary changes to the Ohio Open Meetings Act (R.C. 121.22). The changes allow for public bodies, including public library boards, to conduct meetings electronically during this state of emergency.
Auditor of State
A provision that allows the Auditor of State to waive certain requirements regarding procedure audits if the audit period overlaps with this health emergency.
The bill extends the absentee voting by mail for the March 17 primary election to April 28. It allows an elector who has not already cast a ballot in the primary election, and who was registered to vote in Ohio as of Feb. 18, to cast an absentee ballot through 7:30 p.m. on April 28. The bill requires candidates and political entities to file their post-primary finance statements using March 17th as the date of the primary, but extends the filing deadline to 4 p.m. on June 5. The Secretary of State’s Office has been allocated $7 million in this bill in order to mail out information to registered voters regarding this extension.
Codifies Governor’s Order on Unemployment Compensation
The bill codifies the Governor’s Executive Order relative to Unemployment Compensation including waiving the first week waiting period; changing the eligibility to include COVID-19 related unemployment situations; and waiving the work search requirement. More information can be found on the state’s unemployment.ohio.gov website.
Tax Filing Deadline Changes
The bill makes several changes due to the Federal Government moving the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. These changes include extending the date for estimated payments; waives interest payments, excludes the “20-day rule” under municipal income tax for employees working from home during the health emergency plus 30 days; and extends the due date of the state-administered municipal net profit tax.
Controlling Board Approval
The bill authorizes the Director of Budget and Management to transfer cash in FY 2020 from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the GRF to ensure the fiscal year 2020 GRF budget is balanced. This is contingent upon the approval of at least two Controlling Board members from each chamber of the General Assembly.
OLC Statement of Support (PDF)