This Week in Public Policy: March 1 - 5, 2021

This Week in Public Policy, written by DD Council staff person Paul Jarvis, provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.

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Click here to read updates from previous weeks.

In Ohio

On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, the annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness and Advocacy Day event occurred virtually. More than 700 participants tuned into the one-hour program that began at 10:00 to hear from DODD Director Jeff Davis, Ohio Tech Ambassadors, and keynote speaker Dr. Kara Ayers from the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Governor Mike DeWine opened the virtual ceremony with a welcome video. Additionally, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague also provided recorded comments recognizing DD Awareness Month. The event was once again masterfully led by Shari Cooper. More than 100 virtual legislative meetings took place following the opening ceremonies.

On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee held PROPONENT Testimony on House Bill 31 (Accessible Parking). The bill would make changes to Ohio’s accessible parking law, including increases in penalties for violations, clarifying that person for whom a placard was issued must be in vehicle to be eligible for accessible parking, and would create a citizen enforcement group, among many other changes. There were several questions about how some of the bill’s new requirements would work in the real world, especially focusing on enforcement. Testimony was submitted by 19 individuals an organizations. Additionally, three individuals testified in person at the Ohio Statehouse, urging the committee to pass the bill due to abuses of accessible parking laws. The committee received a 50 page document with photos that illustrated how accessible parking spots are abused. It also received a study conduct at the College of Wooster that showed enforcement continues to decrease over time (based on Municipal Court reporting). Just a few of the many photos provided to the committee included:

Picture of a gray Jeep parked illegally in an accessible parking spot.Picture of a US Postal Service truck parked illegally in an accessible parking spot.Picture of person in a wheelchair trying to get into a van that is blocked because someone parked illegally in an accessible space.

The House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services met three days this week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). The committee continues to work through its portfolio of state agencies, focusing on the Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Aging on Tuesday, Department of Health on Wednesday, and Department of Job and Family Services on Thursday. Each day, the committee accepted written and oral testimony from supporters and interested parties. Clicking on each day above will take you to the committee page that includes all testimony and committee documents that were provided to the committee on that day.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the Senate Transportation Committee held ALL Testimony on House Bill 74 (State Transportation Budget). The committee accepted a few amendments and then passed the bill out. On Thursday, the House of Representatives debated and then passed the bill by a vote of 87-8. It will now go over to the Senate for additional hearings. 

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the Senate Health Committee held PROPONENT Testimony on Senate Bill 58 (Esther’s Law). The bill would allow families to install electronic monitoring systems into a family member’s room in a long-term care facility. Steve Piskor testified in support, explaining his desire to cut down on abuse in nursing homes. The bill is named after his mom, Esther. Three other individuals submitted written testimony.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the Senate Financial Institutions and Technology Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 2 (Broadband Expansion). The bill would provide grants to Internet Service Providers to install broadband services in un/underserved areas of the state. Bill sponsor Rick Carfagna was joined by companion bill sponsor Rob McColley in providing background and updates on the legislation. The committee asked a lot of questions, generally focusing their concern on ensuring that broadband expansion occur in unserved areas of the state, including urban areas where it isn’t generally believed there is a gap but that does exist.

On Thursday, March 4, 2021, the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 120 (Visitation in Long-Term Care Facilities). The bill would require long-term care facilities to grant access to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic if certain requirements are met. Bill sponsors testified on the need for a clear visitation policy for individuals during the pandemic. Legislators were informed the bill had a deadline to either December 2021 or when the governor’s declaration of emergency ended.

In Washington

Nothing to report.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: March 8 - 12, 2021

Due to a scheduling issue, an update for next week will not be provided.

Facts That May Only Interest Me

The first crossword puzzle appeared on December 21, 1913 in the New York World Sunday newspaper. The puzzle was diamond shaped and did not have any blacked out squares similar to what we see in crossword puzzles today. The first clue was a five-letter word for, “What bargain hunters enjoy.” And because the Internet is full of strange information, one person has identified the most commonly used answer for crosswords appearing the New York Times. Era tops the list, with area, ere, one and eli rounding out the top five.