COVID-19 State Updates: May 29, 2020
The Ohio Department of Health reported Thursday that coronavirus cases increased by 476 and deaths increased by 54, reaching respective totals of 33,915 and 2,098.
For the week ending May 23, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) reported 42,082 initial unemployment claims.
"The number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last 10 weeks (1,257,838) is more than the combined total of those filed during the last three years," ODJFS said in a news release.
State Capital Re-appropriations bills, previously approved money, is typically a routine initiative, but this year’s activity could change that.
The Ohio Senate introduced their version of a re-appropriations bill, SB 316.
The Ohio House also has a version of a capital re-appropriations bill, HB 670.
The capital re-appropriations bills each plan to have emergency clauses attached to ensure that there is no lapse in funding for existing capital projects at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
However, the House as-introduced version is nearly half the size of the Senate version in terms of funded projects.
HB 670 proposes spending almost $700 million on previously approved state capital projects, compared to nearly $1.2 billion in the version before the Ohio Senate.
The Senate version reflects the full amount of money state lawmakers previously approved to be spent on projects that either haven not begun or are incomplete.
The debate will likely focus on the fact that the Senate version includes, but the House version removes, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) projects.
It is expected that a re-appropriations bill will pass by the end of June.
As some businesses continue to fear a wave of coronavirus-related litigation as they emerge from COVID-19, Ohio policymakers are continuing to debate some form of temporary immunity for the pandemic.
Under changes proposed by Senator Matt Huffman, SB 308 would extend immunity to businesses, health care workers and their facilities, religious institutions, state and local governments, public colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations through April 1, 2021.
It would cover claims of exposure to coronavirus while on the entities' premises unless there was intentional or willful misconduct.
SB 308 is still in Committee and there may be more changes to it next week and a new version.
A variation is also in the Ohio House, HB 606, and it was passed by the full House on Thursday.
A workers’ comp amendment was successfully offered and included in HB 606 by Representative Brigid Kelly; the amendment would make prison staff, grocery-store workers, and first-responders eligible for workers’ compensation should they catch the virus.
The key difference between the two versions now appears to be that the health care immunity language in the Senate is a willful standard, while the House changed it to a reckless standard.
Also, the dates at which immunity ends is different – the House immunity standard would end December 31, 2020.
The Ohio Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to curb local authority to ban plastic bags and other disposable containers.
The bill now heads back to the Ohio House because the Senate changed the House version from a permanent ban to a one-year moratorium.
The next application period of the TechCred program will open June 1 through June 30; TechCred helps Ohioans learn new skills and helps employers build stronger workforces with skills needed in today’s economy and many of the trainings are available online.
Other TechCred announcements include:
Employers awarded in October 2019 and January 2020, who had credential programs interrupted by the crisis, may request to extend their 18-month award eligibility timeline.
Employees can now earn multiple credentials during each application period.
As a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, Governor Mike DeWine announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio's General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020, which ends on June 30.
These budget reductions, in addition to identifying areas of savings, are deemed necessary to ensure Ohio fulfills its constitutional requirement of maintaining a balanced state budget each year.
The budget reductions for the Ohio Development Services Agency (DAS) will preclude their ability to award funding to any of the applications submitted for the Industry Sector Partnership Program in the current fiscal year. At this time, all applications submitted for funding will be retained. If funding is available for the program next fiscal year, DAS will proceed with scoring the applications currently received and awarding grant funds in accordance with the program guidelines.
Last week, Lt. Governor Husted announced several new sector opening dates in Ohio:
On June 1, catering and banquet centers may reopen if they can meet required safety protocols. Protocols include six feet between tables, no congregating, and a crowd size of no more than 300 people.
Full guidelines to ensure that these sectors operate in the safest manner possible are/will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Governor DeWine announced a plan to lift restrictions on visitation at assisted living homes in Ohio. Beginning June 8, 2020, properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can begin to allow outdoor visitation. The lifted restriction does not yet apply to nursing homes.
Each facility can determine how to best implement outdoor visitations, however, at a minimum, all facilities must develop a policy that includes: screening for temperatures and symptom-reporting for visitors; scheduled hours and time limits for visits; proper social distancing measures; face coverings; Resident, family, and friend education about the risks of the spread of COVID-19. Consideration for visitors during end-of-life situations will also be expanded.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring Ohio employers' premium installments for the months of June, July, and August.
Businesses will have the option to defer the monthly premium payments with no financial penalties.
This is the second payment deferral BWC has given to employers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has at least delayed a lower court ruling ordering Ohio to accept electronically collected signatures for ballot initiatives and delaying the filing deadline, writing that the district court exceeded its authority by rewriting Ohio election law.
The order blocked the lower court decision and remains in effect while the appeals court continues its review of the case.
Under Ohio law, proposed constitutional amendments aiming for the November ballot must submit valid signatures from 452,958 voters collected from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties before a July 1 deadline and there are two initiatives seeking to secure constitutional amendments on the Ohio ballot.
“Ohioans for Secure & Fair Elections”: would allow for same-day voter registration and the ability to cast a ballot during early voting and on Election Day.
“Ohioans for Raising the Wage”: want to raise Ohio’s minimum wage incrementally to $13 by 2025.