Ohio legislative update for May 19, 2020

(Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The House was successful in passing several pieces of legislation last week including assisting families in adopting children and updating Ohio’s cybercrime laws.

My colleagues in the Ohio House and I work hard to improve the lives of the Ohioans we represent, and I appreciate the opportunity to update you on these and other issues before us in the Legislature.

The Family Forward Act: House Bill 405, the Family Forward Act, will assist families who are looking to adopt a child by offering reduced interest rate loans for adoption-related costs. Loans would be up to $50,000 and available as a line of credit for a five-year term with the option to extend for an additional five years. The loans will be made available through the Linked Deposit program in the Treasurer of State’s office. This important piece of legislation, which passed unanimously, will assist families who wish to adopt but may be delayed or deterred by the burdensome costs.

The Ohio Computer Crimes Act: House Bill 368 aims to reduce the frequency of cyber-crimes by updating and modernizing Ohio’s computer crimes law. House Bill 368 recognizes new categories of cybercrime and extends a variety of stricter charges for prosecutors to pursue. Additionally, it makes electronic data theft and electronic data tampering felonies of the third degree. This is an important piece of legislation as cybercrime continues to increase.

Providing Immunity to Hospital Police Officers: House Bill 421 provides immunity to municipalities and counties for the actions of hospital police departments. These hospital departments provide a valuable service and this legislation ensures that municipalities and counties are not held liable for the actions of a hospital police department, which they have no control over. House Bill 421 passed unanimously.

Allowing State University Trustees to Attend Meetings Electronically: House Bill 404 allows the board of trustees of a state institution of higher education to adopt a policy allowing the trustees to attend a board meeting electronically. The legislation is completely permissive, allowing each institution to adopt the policy if they choose to. The ability to hold meetings electronically has become even more important as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Expediting the Transfer of Student Records Act: House Bill 111 clarifies and codifies a requirement for the timely transfer of a K-12 student’s records between schools when a student transfers from one school to another. Under House Bill 111, that timeframe is five days. This legislation is important to help smooth the transition of children who might experience a change in schools.