New Ohio law changes that people need to be aware of

In mid-December, more than 50 bills were passed that will affect Ohioans in different ways. From the minimum wage debate to new driving laws, new school suspension and expulsion policies, quite a few things have changed. The following are some changes to Ohio law as explained by Jim Siegel, a writer from the Columbus Dispatch.

Anyone who plans on buying a puppy will be affected due to this law change. Ohio has enacted new regulations for the sale of dogs by pet stores. This law also prohibits cities from passing ordinances such as Grove City’s limit on where Petland could buy dogs. Another law about animals was passed, affecting owners of chickens or ducks. Ohio law now bans chickens and ducks from roaming onto a neighbor’s property.

Cities can no longer try to raise the minimum wage above the state minimum, which is $8.15 per hour in 2017. This kills a push in Cleveland for a $15.00 minimum wage.

The state now bans abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than 24 weeks. A bill banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is around 4 weeks, otherwise known as the Heartbeat Bill, was vetoed by governor John Kasich.

In addition, the driver’s penalty has changed for vehicular manslaughter. The clock on the 15-year license suspension will now start when the driver is released from prison instead of while they are locked up.

Other new laws about driving have passed as well. A vehicle passing a bicycle must now give at least 3 feet of space. Also, if a driver cannot get a traffic light to detect their car, they may drive their vehicle through the intersection as long as they yield to oncoming traffic. The oncoming traffic will most likely still have a green light and will not know of the driver’s predicament, therefore drivers will need to exercise caution when doing this.

School sport coaches and players are affected by this new law. Athletes have to read information regarding sudden cardiac arrest, and coaches must complete an annual training course on the condition.

Ohio is attempting to crack down on students being suspended and expelled. Schools can no longer suspend or expel a student for being absent from school an unreasonable amount of times. Districts with truancy levels over ten percent are required to implement an absence-intervention team in an attempt to avoid the need to suspend or expel students. Also, the state has to create a model school discipline policy in 2017 that emphasizes prevention and alternatives to suspension or expulsion. Schools also are allowed to permit a student to complete assignments missed during a suspension.

May 15 is now “All for the Kids Awareness Day” to raise awareness of children suffering from serious illnesses or injuries.

Several laws about guns was passed. Employers can no longer forbid workers from storing a gun in a locked vehicle on company property. Active military members now can carry a concealed handgun in Ohio without a permit, assuming they’ve had weapons training. College campuses and day-care centers are no longer automatically off limits to concealed handguns, but trustees or business owners must choose to allow them.

Almost 20 high-performing school districts will be exempt from some education regulations, such as requirements on hiring licensed teachers. So far, no Franklin County districts fall under this law.

High school students who excel in taking another language can now get something out of it. Students can now attach a state Seal of Biliteracy to transcripts of high school graduates who demonstrate high proficiency in a language other than English.

A new opportunity for private school students is here. A student enrolled in a private school can participate in competitions between public schools in the district where the school is located, even if it is not the student’s home district. This is only if the superintendent agrees.

The state is pushing for opportunities in the sciences in schools. Schools can offer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in grades K through 12 instead of the current policy of offering it in grades 6 through 12.

The Ohio Department of Education will no longer have to approve a district’s plan to make up snow days or the “blizzard bags” that schools send to students’ homes. Schools will work out a solution on their own.

Overall, quite a few changes to Ohio laws have occurred. With new laws come new opportunities, such as more STEM programs for all ages and the availability of private students to participate in public school activities. Ohioans should watch out for any relevant change in policies.

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