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UPDATED: Comprehensive Bill Signed By Governor DeWine in Response to the Spread of COVID-19 UPDATED: Comprehensive Bill Signed By Governor DeWine in Response to the Spread of COVID-19

UPDATED: Comprehensive Bill Signed By Governor DeWine in Response to the Spread of COVID-19

In an effort to combat the spread and impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Ohio House of Representatives approved the Senate’s amendments to Am. Sub. H.B. 197. Governor DeWine signed this bill on the afternoon of March 27, 2020. This comprehensive, all-inclusive bill covers a wide range of issues, including education, voting, public utilities, unemployment compensation and the judicial system. This legislation does the following:


  • Suspends the statutorily required ratio between daycare staff members to children and maximum group sizes for child daycare centers.
  • Allows the Department of Job and Family Services to continue to pay providers of publicly funded childcare if the provider is under contract with the Department and is unable to provide publicly funded childcare to children of eligible parents.
  • Extends the date by which publicly funded childcare providers must be rated through the Step Up to Quality Program from July 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020.


  • Grants the Director of Agriculture discretion to allow for continued student meal delivery by schools and other entities that have been issued a food service operation license for the Summer Food Service Program. These entities are exempt from food processing requirements while the schools are closed.
  • Permits school districts, STEM schools, community schools, and chartered non-public schools to make up lost school days through distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Allows licensed special education providers to use telehealth and electronic communication to help students receiving special education services. These providers include those licensed by appropriate agencies as speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, athletic trainers, psychologists, counselors and social workers.
  • Waives state testing requirements and prohibits the Department of Education from penalizing a school’s state aid account for students who are not able to complete assessments. This legislation also establishes a safe harbor from penalties based on absence of report cards. It exempts schools from retaining students in third grade under the Third-Grade Reading guarantee with exceptions and allows seniors to graduate if the school determined they were on track to graduate before COVID-19 emergency. Finally, the legislation grants the State Superintendent authority to adjust deadlines for teacher evaluations, school safety drills, emergency management tests, etc.


  • Shifts $20,000,000 of funds, which is to be repaid, from the Building Improvement Fund to the Administrative Building Fund to cover costs associated with state agency capital projects. These funds will be overseen by the Director of Administrative Services.
  • Grants the Tax Commissioner the discretion to extend the date for filing state income tax returns.


  • Suspends the requirement that recently retired state employees may not be rehired. Recently retired state employees may be reemployed by the following agencies without forfeiting their retirement allowance: The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; The Department of Youth Services; The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; The Department of Veterans Services; and The Department of Developmental Disabilities.
  • Codified Governor DeWine’s previous Executive Order relating to unemployment. Under this legislation, one may receive unemployment benefits without serving the waiting period. Individuals cannot be disqualified from receiving benefits if they are unemployed or unable to work because of an isolation or quarantine order by their employers, the Governor and the Department of Health.
  • Allows the Director of Job and Family Services to waive the requirement that one must actively search for work before receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Establishes that for any day which employees perform personal services at their homes or other locations, where they report for their employment duties is counted as a day performing personal services at the employees’ principal place of work. This is effective from March 9, 2020 to 30 days after the conclusion of the state of emergency.


  • To avoid a workforce shortage, the Director of Medicaid is authorized to support the health care providers by classifying them as COVID-19 community providers and requesting additional funds to payments for Medicaid payments to COVID-19 community providers. The Director must specify any requirements the COVID-19 community provider must meet, the additional reimbursements and methods of payment.
  • Allows recent nursing graduates to obtain a temporary license to practice before passing the exam for licensing. This license is valid until 90 days after December 1, 2020 or 90 days after the state of emergency has ended, whichever occurs first.
  • Grants Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist the limited authority to perform certain services related to anesthesia care under the supervision of a physician.


  • Extends the validity of licenses issued by state agencies and political subdivisions for 90 days after the state of emergency ends or December 1, 2020 (whichever occurs first). Furthermore, licenses that would otherwise expire during the state of emergency are valid either 90 days after the state of emergency has ended or December 1, 2020 (whichever occurs first). This includes concealed handgun licenses, even if they expire before the effective date of the state of emergency. However, licensing agencies may still engage in disciplinary actions during this time period.
  • Requires that a state agency must take action no later than 90 days after the state of emergency ends or December 1, 2020 (whichever occurs first) if they are required by law to take action during the state of emergency.
  • Permits state boards, state commissions, local and county governments and higher education boards to conduct meetings electronically, as long as the public is aware and may participate electronically. Public entities must give notice of the meetings to the public, media and parties required to be at the hearing at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, except in the event of an emergency, which requires immediate action.
  • Allows the certain public retirement boards to delay elections scheduled to take place between March 9, 2020 and December 1, 2020.
  • Grants a county central committee of political parties an additional 45 days to fill a vacancy from the date the vacancy needed to be filled.
  • Permits the Auditor of State to waive certain requirements regarding procedural audits if the audit period occurs or overlaps during the state of emergency.
  • Allows the Ohio Public Works Commission, Ohio Water Development Authority and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to waive penalties or late fees. The Ohio Public Works Commission may also extend project schedules at its discretion.
  • Requires all county offices required to transfer property and process titles to remain open, in order for people to access documents that are not made available online. The offices may provide access during limited hours and for a limited duration of time.
  • Extends absentee voting in the March 17, 2020 primary election through April 28, 2020.


  • Authorizes the Director of Environmental Protection to issue an order that prohibits disconnecting water service as a result of nonpayment of fees and charges. The legislation also requires the reconnection of water service to anyone whose service was disconnected as a result of nonpayment of fees and charges and waives all fees for connecting or reconnecting water service.

Judicial System

  • Tolls any criminal, civil or administrative statute of limitations that was set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020.
  • Tolls other time limitations, such as the time within which discovery must be completed and the time within which a party must be served, which were set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020.
To stay up to date with the latest laws and orders, please visit Ice Miller’s COVID-19 Resource Center, available here:

Ice Miller LLP attorneys can recommend measures your business should implement to minimize legal risk and respond effectively to executive orders and laws enacted relating to COVID-19. For further information, please contact the Ice Miller COVID-19 Task Force for more information and guidance.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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