This Week in Public Policy: May 25 - 29, 2020

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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In Ohio

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 606 (Limited Liability – COVID-19). The bill would limit the liability of employers and healthcare professionals to cases where the employer or healthcare personnel acted “recklessly”. The Ohio DD Council and others weighed in with concerns on this legislation because people with disabilities who contract COVID-19 are considered higher risks for mortality. The bill was amended in committee to a degree that the Ohio Trial Lawyers Association (now the Ohio Association for Justice) changed their stance from oppose to neutral. There continues to be an effort to change the standard by which entities could be liable from “reckless” to “negligent”.

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the House Aging and Long-Term Care Committee held PROPONENT Testimony on House Bill 498 (Tax Credit for Housing Accessible Features). The bill would provide a refundable tax credit to senior citizens or permanently disabled Ohioans who incur expenses to make their home accessible or for home health care expenses. The total annual amount of credits that may be awarded under the bill cannot exceed $10 Million. The Ohio DD Council submitted written testimony in support of this bill, along with several others.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: June 1 - 5, 2020

In Ohio

During COVID19 Shutdown, many committees are not releasing their hearing schedule until Mondays. Some meetings are already scheduled for next week, through none with impact on disability-related issues at this time.

In Washington

On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a business meeting to consider nominations. One nomination of note is former commissioner of ACL Julie Hocker, who is being considered for a post within the US Department of Labor. The hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

On Thursday, June 4, 3030, the House Committee on Appropriations, Departments of Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled, “COVID-19 Response” featuring Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The hearing will take place at 11:00 a.m. in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building.

Facts That May Only Interest Me: A recent journal entry to Geophysical Research Letters states that two air pollutants have dropped significantly in 2020 due to COVID19 shutdowns. The first air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide, is estimated to have dropped by 60% in China, Western Europe and the US. High levels of nitrogen dioxide causes harm to vegetation and crops and causes fading and discoloring on furnishings and fabrics. Nitrogen dioxide is produced by vehicles, power plants and industrial activities. The second drop in air pollution is the reduction of particulate matter. One study indicates that particulate matter was reduced by 35% in China. However, a different study notes that ground level ozone levels in China actually increased during this time.