March 2020 Newsletter

Community and Editorial Support Grows for Occupational Licensing Reform

House Bill 263 overhauls Ohio’s occupational licensing laws to give more opportunity to those with criminal records to seek licensing. HB263 recently passed unanimously out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee. While we wait for a vote by the full House of Representatives, we have seen community and editorial support for the measure grow.

In his letter to the editor in The Blade (Toledo), Rev. Donald Perryman, President of the United Pastors for Social Empowerment, noted that when “public policy acts as a barrier to a person with a criminal record reaching their full potential, the long-term consequences impact individuals, families, and their communities” and called on elected officials to demonstrate compassion and understanding to remove these barriers.

The February 26 editorial in The Columbus Dispatch stated that “those who have done their time and paid their fines should not have to continue paying unforeseen penalties of housing rejections, employment denials and occupational licensing restrictions that bear no relationship to their convictions.” The editorial urged the legislature to enact HB263. The same week, The Repository (Canton) republished The Columbus Dispatch editorial saying that its “Editorial Board joins the board at The Columbus Dispatch, authors of this editorial, in calling for a change in the law affecting professional licenses.

We join these voices to call on the Ohio House of Representatives to act quickly to approve HB263.

Expansion of the Homestead Exemption

Recently introduced, House Bill 439, will enable low-income seniors and persons with disabilities, and disabled veterans, many on fixed incomes, to afford to stay in their homes especially as local property taxes are increased. HB439 allows the homestead exemption for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities and the enhanced homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities to increase with inflation.

Currently, the Senior and Disabled Persons Homestead Exemption excludes the first $25,000 of the home’s value from taxation. For example, if a home is worth $100,000, it will be taxed as if the home were worth $75,000. The Disabled Veterans Enhanced Homestead Exemption excludes the first $50,000 of the home’s value from taxation. For example, if a home is worth $100,000, it will be taxed as if the home were worth $50,000. HB439 would adjust by the rate of inflation the amount of the home’s value that is excluded from taxation each year.

Court Rules that Children of Undocumented Immigrants in Ohio who are U.S. Citizens Should be Able to Obtain Driver’s Licenses

Under previous Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) policy, minors in the state had to have parents co-sign for their driver’s license, and their parents had to have legal status in the country.

That all changed last week when U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. ruled that the policy violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In the suit, brought by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Judge Sargus agreed that the BMV cannot determine document requirements for a license in a “discriminatory manner.”

Children of undocumented immigrants in Ohio who are U.S. citizens should now be able to obtain driver’s licenses. The court found that the BMV’s policy that the otherwise-eligible minor children of undocumented parents cannot obtain licenses because they do not permit parents to cosign their applications violates the Equal Protection Clause. The court also granted class certification in the case.