New laws on autism, minimum wage
In 2017, 97 Ohio House Bills and 51 Ohio Senate Bills are taking effect in the coming months having to do with a wide range of issues from abortion, bicycles and minimum wage to grade school regulation and autism.
Though exact effective dates were not available from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office Friday, locals weighed in on the coming impact of the new laws.
On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a new requirement for health insurance plans in Ohio. Services and treatments of autism spectrum disorders must now be covered.
“There’s just no other way to pay for it but hospitals are recommending these services,” said Susan Tilton, superintendent of the Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “The main expense is the people who go into a child’s home and teach skills and coping mechanisms. But that cost is upwards of $60,000.”
Tilton said oftentimes parents haven’t been able to get even basic medical coverage for their children on the spectrum.
“It’s been discrimination against them,” she said. “But the numbers of kids on the spectrum are growing and the fact is if this is caught early they have a better chance at leading much more independent lives.”
Tony Dunn, superintendent of Belpre City Schools, said three “common sense” laws concerning school districts will be of benefit to local students and educators this year.
Habitual truancy is no longer cause for suspension or expulsion after Kasich signed House Bill 410 into law Wednesday. But more than a 10 percent truancy level in a school district will require the implementation of an absence-intervention team within the district.
“This law cleans up what practitioners in the field have done for a long time, we know kids need to be in school and don’t take their exclusion lightly,” said Dunn. “I’ve never suspended or expelled a student for truancy, it’s very counterproductive so I’m OK with the law.”
Also, the Ohio Department of Education has pulled out of regulation of snow days. Districts no longer need ODE approval for snow days or “blizzard bags” sent home with students. Schools are now permitted to work out their own methods of resolving lost academic time.
“We participated in the state’s program for the past four years but now our society has come around to online instruction and it’s used so much more in everyday life that blended learning has become common,” said Dunn. “I think common sense is a good term for this. They took one regulation off of us which will let us continue education in a constructive and capable way.”
School districts will also be tracking one more certification for coaching personnel this year. In an effort to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes, coaches are now required to complete an annual training course on the condition. The goal of the law is for athletes, parents and coaches to know the warning signs and symptoms of the No. 1 killer of student athletes. “All of our coaches take CPR and defibrillator training and those are tracked by our athletic director,” said Dunn. “And there are other coaching classes that are mandatory to help coaches with interaction with students and training on concussions so this will be added to that list. It makes sense.”
For the cyclists in the area, a new law passed by Ohio legislators provides further safeguards on roadways.
“It’s a good way to draw attention to the fact that cars should be sharing the road with cyclists,” said Ryan Smith, owner of Marietta Adventure Company in Marietta and an avid cyclist.
Now, a vehicle passing a bicycle must give at least 3 feet of space between the car and bike.
“Three feet offers safe clearance on your wider roads, but generally cyclists that are on secondary roads ride along the shoulder,” said Smith. “If a driver is patient and they wait for safe clearance, most cyclists will get out of the way.”
The minimum wage was raised 5 cents this year from $8.10 to $8.15 per hour thanks to Kasich’s signature last month. Also included in Senate Bill 331 was a provision blocking cities from raising minimum wage within their municipalities above the state minimum.
“It’s a very small increase which means it’s easier to handle as a business owner this way,” said Jim Caporale, owner of American Flags and Poles in Marietta. “If they were trying to enforce a $15 per hour adjustment then more drastic changes to prices would have to be made to accommodate that. But it’s been adjusted realistically to the cost of living.”
However Caporale said banning municipalities from setting a higher minimum wage was not a wise move by Ohio legislators.
“I’m not sure I like that you can’t make it higher if there’s a need based on your local cost of living,” he said. “You have to understand what you’re doing and have real reasons behind it but if it’s needed it should be allowed.”
Though Kasich vetoed the most stringent part of the Heartbeat bill last month which would have forbid abortions at about six weeks into pregnancy, he did sign into law a shorter timeline for legal abortions.
Now, abortions are banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Previously the limit was after 24.
At a glance
Recognition laws taking effect this year
¯ Designating January as Thyroid Health Awareness Month.
¯ Designating Feb. 17 as Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day.
¯ Designating March as Endometriosis Awareness Month.
¯ Designating April as Osteopathic Medicine Recognition Month.
¯ Designating April as Genocide Awareness Month.
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¯ Designating May as Fibromuscular Dysplasia Awareness Month.
¯ Designating May as Asthma Awareness Month.
¯ Designating May 1 as Fanconi Anemia Awareness Day.
¯ Designating May 5 as Childhood Awareness Day.
¯ Designating May 13 as Bar
ter Syndrome Awareness Day.
¯ Designating May 14 as Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Day.
¯ Designating May 15 as All for the Kids Awareness Day.
¯ Designating June as Scleroderma Awareness Month.
¯ Designating June 1 as Hypoparathyroidism Awareness Day.
¯ Designating the fourth Sunday of July as Blue Star Mothers and Family Day.
¯ Designating the last week of July as Service Dog Awareness Week.
¯ Designating Aug. 7 as Ohio Purple Heart Day.
¯ Designating September as Pain Awareness Month.
¯ Designating the second week of September as Krabbe Disease Awareness Week.
¯ Designating October as Rett Syndrome Awareness Month.
¯ Designating November as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Awareness Month.
¯ Designating the month of November as One Health Awareness Month.
¯ Designating Nov. 10 as Armed Services, Peace Officer, First Responder and Dual Service Recognition Day.
¯ Designating the Saturday before Thanksgiving as Ohio Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
¯ Designating the first week of December as Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week.
Ohio Secretary of State