Continuing our tour around the legislation passed in the lame duck, session, please find below a summary of recently passed legislation. After the governor signs a bill, it becomes effective 90 days later, so most of these will be effective generally in mid-March. If you have further questions about the provisions of the bills in this summary, please give us a call.

HB 48 / SB 199, Firearms in Safety Zones: HB 48 contained provisions to remove concealed-carry prohibitions in certain areas including school safety zones, daycare facilities, college campuses, aircraft, and public areas of airport terminals. During the lame duck session, HB 48 was rolled into SB 199, which was signed by the governor on December 19.

HB 89, Medicaid School Program: On December 19 Gov. Kasich signed this bill, which establishes that Ohio is in compliance with federal Medicaid regulations and may continue to receive federal reimbursements to the Medicaid in Schools program. It does this by clarifying that occupational and physical therapists, audiologists, and speech pathologists are defined as “licensed practitioners of the healing arts” for purposes of making referrals for services if they have a provider agreement. These therapists may be referring or ordering-only providers.

HB 410, Truancy: The final version of this legislation was delivered to the governor for signature on December 27.  After July 1, 2017, schools may not suspend, expel, or remove a student under the disciplinary code solely because the student has been absent from school without excuse. Truancy is handled as follows:

  • The designation of “chronic truant” will no longer be used.
  • The designation “habitual truant” will apply for any of the following unexcused absences:
  • 30 or more consecutive hours
  • 42 or more hours in a month
  • 72 or more hours in a year
  • Districts are required to provide written notice to parents within seven days of a child’s unexcused absences of 38 or more hours in a month or 65 or more hours in a school year.
  • Absence intervention teams consisting of an administrator, a parent, and a school staff member will be formed upon designating a student as a habitual truant. Written notice to the parents of the development of the plan will be provided within seven days.
  • Truancy was removed from the statute that requires boards to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior and from the reasons for Big 8 schools to send students to alternative schools.
  • Districts with a truancy rate of 5 percent or less on the most recent report card are exempt from assigning habitually absent students to absence intervention teams and may develop their own district strategies.
  • If the absence intervention plan or other alternatives fail, the attendance officer must file a truancy complaint on day 61 after the plan has failed and the student has refused to participate in or otherwise failed to make satisfactory progress on the plan.
  • Extensive changes were made to juvenile court law regarding unruly and delinquent dispositions and diversion programs for truancy.
  • Suspensions may not be carried over to the next school year for any type of student misconduct.
  • Alternative punishments such as community service may be imposed during the summer for the number of hours equal to the remaining part of a suspension if fewer than 10 days of school remain when a suspension is imposed; however, any remaining community service may not be made up via suspension when the next school year begins. Other alternatives are permitted, and community service must begin during the first full week of summer break.
  • Districts may allow students to make up missed homework during a suspension.
  • Skipping school may not be punished by suspension.
  • A pilot program will be created to study reasons for truancy and to evaluate interventions. The ohio Family and Children First Cabinet Council will accept applications from districts to participate in the pilot program in 2017–18 and 2018–19.
  • Districts must adopt a new or amended policy to guide employees in addressing student absences effective the beginning of the 2017–18 school year and must include applicable intervention strategies, including an absence intervention plan, truancy prevention mediation programs, requiring parents to attend parent involvement programs, filing a truancy complaint in juvenile court, and notifying the registrar of motor vehicles.

HB 438, Public school teacher appreciation: This bill passed in Senate 31-0 and was delivered to Gov. Kasich for his signature on December 29. This bill designates the week prior to the week of Thanksgiving Day as “Ohio Public Education Appreciation Week.” Additional provisions require school health curricula to include instruction on the positive effects of organ and tissue donation, permit districts not evaluate to counselors on extended leave or retiring, and modify timelines for sale or lease of district property.

HB 512, Water systems: HB 512 was signed in June and became effective in September. The new law provides grants for lead fixture replacement in eligible schools.

SB 3, Education deregulation: See previous blog post.

SB 235, Property tax exemption: This bill provides a property tax exemption for the increased value of property for commercial and industrial development until the facility is completed. A substitute bill passed in the Senate 29-2. It allows the tax exemption for 6 years (instead of 10 years) and includes a recoupment provision that goes back 3 years if property is not developed but is subsequently sold when the value increases. Multiple amendments were added to the bill during the lame duck session, including several provisions from other bills that were not moving. Gov. Kasich signed the bill on December 27; however, he used his line-item veto power to veto provisions that allowed tax breaks for oil and gas producers and for digital entertainment downloads.

  • Tax-related amendments:
  • Allow land in a downtown redevelopment district to get tax increment financing
  • Allow the four highest-ranked projects (instead of top two) to get a catalytic certificate under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program (tax credit up to 25 percent of rehab costs, capped at $5 million unless it’s a catalytic project)
  • Allow a multi-year production (such as TV series) that gets Ohio’s motion picture tax credit to be first for consideration of credit the next year
  • Unemployment-related amendments:
  • Freeze benefits for unemployed workers from 2018–2019 while taxable wage base on employers will increase from $9K to $9.5K over the same time (from HB 620)
  • Repeal automatic tax increase on business if the state is forced to borrow from the federal government to cover the cost of high unemployment benefits (from HB 390)
  • Other amendments:
  • Adopt recommendations of the Net Operating Loss Study Committee
  • Exempt small business investment companies from the Financial Activities Tax (from HB 592)
  • Update pawnbroker regulations (from SB 270)
  • Prohibit bestiality (from SB 195)
  • Increase regulations on cockfighting and bearbaiting (from HB 215)
  • Prohibit poultry from running onto neighboring properties
  • Clarify that rock-climbing walls are not state-regulated amusement rides
  • Vetoed amendments – added by legislature but rejected by Gov. Kasich when he signed the bill:
  • (Vetoed) Exempt tangible personal property used for oil and gas manufacture from the sales tax
  • (Vetoed) Exempt digital jukebox downloads from sales tax

SB 252, Cardiac arrest in student athletes, “Lindsay’s Law”: Gov. Kasich signed this bill on December 13. Coaches and trainers are required to annually participate in a training course on recognizing the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. Before participation, student athletes must submit a medical history form and a signed authorization that they received or reviewed information on sudden cardiac arrest for each athletic activity in which they participate.

Students whose biological parent, sibling, or child has experienced sudden cardiac arrest may not participate in athletic activities until the athlete has been cleared by a physician. Students who have exhibited syncope or fainting prior to or following an athletic activity also may not participate until cleared by a physician and must be removed from participation if this occurs, until cleared. Schools must establish penalties for coaches that fail to enforce the requirements outlined above.

Civil immunity will be granted to coaches, school districts, board members, or employees (immunity provision also applies to nonpublic, charter, and STEM schools) for performing duties as outlined in the law, unless their conduct or omission was willful or wanton misconduct. The Ohio Department of Health will approve a sudden cardiac arrest training course for coaches.