DeWine signs bills to provide virus aid, extend Medicaid for pregnant women

ByJeremy Pelzer - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Legislation to provide $350 million in federal coronavirus aid to local governments and re-approve $1.2 billion in state construction project spending was signed into law Friday by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The governor also signed three other bills, including measures to extend Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and anti-smoking efforts, require childcare providers to notify parents about violations that put their children at risk, and limit budget cuts to schools.

House Bill 481, which passed the legislature almost unanimously, provides $350 million to counties, townships, and municipalities to help them pay for coronavirus-related costs. It’s the first wave of funding out of an estimated $4.5 billion approved by Congress for local governments in Ohio.

The $1.2 billion in re-appropriations money includes hundreds of millions of dollars for previously approved construction projects for colleges and universities, as well as new soccer stadiums in Columbus and Cincinnati.

In addition, the legislation gives DeWine permission to freeze state workers’ pay for a year and allows townships to slash pay or institute furloughs for workers because of the fiscal crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

House Bill 11, which passed the Ohio General Assembly without a single dissenting vote, creates $5 million in grants for groups offering prenatal health-care services to pregnant Medicaid recipients in areas of the state with high preterm birth rates.

It also will allow pregnant Medicaid recipients to receive two free dental cleanings per year, requires Medicaid to cover a variety of medications and programs to help people quit smoking, and orders the Ohio Department of Health to create and distribute educational materials about toxic lead-based paint.

House Bill 65 requires a state-licensed childcare facility to notify parents within 14 days when regulators find a rule violation that creates great risk of harm to, or death of, a child. The notification can be issued on paper or electronically, and it must include more information about the violation.

House Bill 164 seeks to limit how severely DeWine’s proposed education funding cuts can affect a given school district. Under the bill, no district can lose more than 6% of its state aid.

The bill also requires the Ohio Department of Education to boost funding for the next two years to school districts when a local power plant loses at least 10% of its value, and it codifies protections for prayer and religious expression in public schools.

Each of the bills will take effect in 90 days, on Sept. 17.

ByJeremy Pelzer

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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