January Special edition Newsletter

OPLC’s Five Must-Pass Bills in 2020

With lawmakers returning to the capitol this week, the Ohio Poverty Law Center delivered a list of five must-pass bills to their offices. OPLC identified five bills that must pass in 2020 in order to improve the lives of Ohioans, especially those living and working in poverty. While just a fraction of the policy changes OPLC is working on, the laws created by the following five bills will make a big difference for the more than 1.6 million Ohioans living in poverty.

1.     House Bill 285 establishes a driver’s license reinstatement fee reduction and waiver program for low-income Ohioans. The bill is based on the successful pilot program, which served nearly 77,000 Ohioans, helping them to get their driving privileges restored.

2.     House Bill 263 removes barriers to employment by reforming occupational licensing for Ohioans with criminal records. It requires licensing agencies to create new disqualifying offense lists that only include offenses related to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation. HB263 would also only allow licensing agencies to consider disqualifying offenses for five years after the date of conviction or the release from incarceration, whichever is the most recent.

3.     House Bill 111 requires school districts to transfer student records within five days of receiving a request. 

4.     House Bill 443 and Senate Bill 254, companion bills, require compliance audits of health plans to make sure they are following federal parity requirements. The legislation prohibits any treatment limitations for mental health and substance use disorder benefits that are not also applied to medical and surgical benefits.

5.     Senate Bill 11 and House Bill 369, called the Ohio Fairness Act, are identical bills that protect against employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and discrimination in accessing basic goods and services based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  

In a letter to all members of the General Assembly, OPLC director Susan Jagers urged them to put these bills on their list of 2020 priorities. “Our must-pass bills help pave the way for a brighter future for our children, address barriers to employment and make the Buckeye State a more welcoming place for all,” she said. “We are hopeful that our legislators will consider the 14 percent of our population who live in poverty when they set their 2020 priorities.” 

Click here for more information about the five bills and who will benefit from these important policy changes.