COLUMBUS (WJW) – It was a long and busy night in the Statehouse as lawmakers passed several bills impacting Ohioans.
The following House and Senate bills were decided by lawmakers this week, many of them overnight into early Thursday morning.
House Bill 45 (American Rescue Plan Act)
House Bill 45 was passed by lawmakers to allocate billions of stimulus dollars to entities across Ohio. Most of the funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act. It’s waiting to be signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine.
House Bill 458 (Voter ID)
Ohio could soon see changes to its election laws after the Ohio House passed House Bill 458. If DeWine signs it into law, photo IDs will be needed to vote in the state.
Under HB 458, one ballot drop box will be allocated per county and voters will have less time to request and return absentee ballots.
House Bill 513
Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 513 early Thursday morning to prevent local governments from restricting tobacco and nicotine product sales.
The bill states that, “regulation of the giveaway, sale, purchase, distribution, manufacture, use, possession, licensing, taxation, inspection, and marketing of tobacco products and alternative
nicotine products is a matter of general statewide concern that requires uniform statewide regulation.”
As reported by FOX 8’s sister station, NBC4i, the legislation passed not long after Columbus City Council voted on a flavored tobacco sales ban within city limits.
The bill must now be signed by Governor DeWine to become law.
Senate Bill 164
Goddard’s Law, or Senate Bill 164, passed the Ohio House to make the punishment for neglect or harm of a pet more severe.
Under SB 164, the most egregious fifth-degree felony offenses committed against companion animals under current law will be classified as “acts of violence,” according to the Animal Protective League of Ohio.
This makes more convictions non-expungable, so they will remain on the offender’s criminal record for life and allow law enforcement and the courts to identify them.
The law was originally named after Fox 8 Meteorologist Dick Goddard.
The revision is now awaiting Governor DeWine to sign it into law.
Senate Bill 288 (Criminal Justice Reforms)
Senate Bill 288, which received bipartisan support last November, passed the Ohio House early Thursday morning, moving forward with changes to Ohio’s criminal code.
If signed into law, SB 288 would enhance texting-while-driving restrictions in the state and decriminalize fentanyl testing strips.
SB 288 was amended to also include Senate Bill 90, making penalties for strangulation range from a fifth-degree felony to a second-degree felony, depending on the level of physical harm caused to the victim.
The governor’s office told FOX 8 that DeWine hasn’t signed these bills into law yet.
House Bill 151
The General Assembly did not pass House Bill 151, which would have prevented transgender girls from taking part in female school sports.
If passed, the bill also would have redirected much of the Ohio Department of Education’s authority to the governor’s office and prohibited discrimination against students who aren’t vaccinated for COVID-19.
Governor DeWine previously spoke out against the bill, saying that the issue should be handled outside of government.