This Week in Public Policy: November 9 - 13, 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.

To subscribe to these weekly updates, send an email to Paul Jarvis at

Click here to read previous week's updates.

In Ohio

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee held sponsor testimony on House Bill 679 (Telehealth). The bill would codify expanded coverage of telehealth services to include psychologist and school psychologists, audiologists and speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists, professional clinical counselors, independent social workers, and independent marriage and family therapists, independent chemical dependency counselors, and dieticians. Included in Representative Mark Frazier’s testimony was the statement:

“One contingency in this bill requires those with a physical or mental disability to be allowed to have a caregiver present with them at the time of receiving in-person services. This is required to alleviate any stress that may be endured while receiving treatment; we have seen issues appear during this pandemic with those with developmental and/or physical disabilities struggling to receive treatment with required assistance during this pandemic.”

Senator Dave Burke expressed some concerns the bill would place in statute the parameters for coverage that would not allow for health insurers to appropriately bundle services in a competitive way. Representative Frazier indicated he would be more than willing to work with him on a resolution if one was needed. Lead co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Adam Holmes, also testified.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the Senate Republican Caucus announced its new leadership team for the 134th General Assembly which begins in January of 2021. Elected as the new Senate President was Senator Matt Huffman from Lima. Filling out the Senate Republic Leadership team are Senators Jay Hottinger (President Pro Tempore), Kirk Schuring (Majority Floor Leader), and Rob McColley (Majority Whip).

On Wednesday, November 11, 2020, Representative Bill Seitz announced his endorsement of Representative Bob Cupp to become the Speaker in the 134th General Assembly, ending his bid to challenge Cupp for the leadership spot. The House Republican Caucus is expected to meet next Wednesday to discuss and possibly vote on leadership positions for the next General Assembly.

On Thursday, November 12, 2020, Representative Scott Wiggam introduced House Bill 787 (Accessible Parking). The bill makes several changes to Ohio’s Accessible Parking law, including adding language that would require the removal of snow drifts from accessible parking spots and the access aisle (clear space marked with diagonal lines) within 24 hours. The bill also creates a Volunteer Accessible Parking Enforcement Training Program to teach volunteers how to assist local police in enforcement of accessible parking and also allows trained volunteers to issue civil parking tickets for violations. The bill makes many other changes and is the result of advocacy by disability-related organizations.

On Thursday, November 12, 2020, the Joint Transportation Study Committee (Road to Our Future), held a hearing to review their draft plan. Witnesses were present to testify in support of continued public transit funding. Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio asked the state to fund more accessible, affordable public transit with an annual appropriation of $185 million (10% of public transit needs).

In Washington

No update.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: November 16 - 20, 2020

In Ohio

On Tuesday, November 17th, the Road to Our Future Joint Legislative Committee will hold a hearing to review the draft report of the committee. The hearing will take place at 2:00 p.m. A meeting room has not been identified at this time.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee will hold ALL Testimony on Senate Bill 246 (Occupational Licensing from Other States). The bill would allow someone with a license or certification from another state to be issued the same or similar in Ohio if certain conditions are met. The committee is expected to adopt a substitute bill. The hearing will take place at 3:15 p.m. in the South Hearing Room of the Ohio Senate Building.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee will hold SPONSOR Testimony on Senate Bill 331 (Sunset Review). The bill would make recommendations of the Sunset Review Committee and change the meeting schedule to require the Sunset Review Committee to meet every General Assembly but includes a schedule for when agencies must appear for review. The hearing will take place at 3:15 p.m. in the South Hearing Room of the Ohio Senate Building.

In Washington

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials will hold a hearing entitled, “Examining the Surface Transportation Board’s Role in Ensuring a Robust Passenger Rail System.” The hearing is scheduled to take place at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will be streamed live here.

Facts That May Only Interest Me: US Retail sales of candles was estimated to be approximately $3.1 Billion in 2013. According to Candles.Org, approximately 35% of candle sales occur during the Christmas/Holiday season. More than 1 billion pounds of wax are used to produce candles sold in the US each year. The Danish EPA funded a study in 2016 to evaluate and identify environmentally friendly candles with reduced particle emissions (finding that most of the particulate matter depends on the wick and what it has been treated with). The newest candle scent trends appear to be cocktails and cannabis.