Issues related to education and the primary election were among those cleared up when the Ohio General Assembly passed and Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197 last week.
With it appearing more and more likely students will not return to their school buildings, the state testing requirements for school children were waived for this school year.
Also, the expansion of the EdChoice scholarship program will be frozen. Eligible buildings will remain the same as the 2019-20 school year.
Other changes include providing local flexibility to grant high school diplomas, waiving retention requirements for the third-grade reading guarantee, and permitting boards of education to hold public meetings electronically.
The bill also sets rules for a new, almost exclusively mail-in primary election for April 28 due to the coronavirus. DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose had recommended increasing mail-in voting and moving the in-person primary voting to June 2.
Registered voters who haven’t yet cast a ballot will need to apply for an absentee ballot to vote. They can do that by printing an application form off the internet, calling their county elections board to request one or writing the necessary information on a piece of paper.
A vote-by-mail request form can be found at voteohio.gov. The Fulton County Board of Elections phone number is 419-335-6841.
Requests must be received at the board by noon on April 25, except in cases of unforeseen hospitalizations.
Once a ballot is received and completed, it must be postmarked by April 27, or it can be directly delivered to the voter’s county election board on Election Day. Only those voters with disabilities or those without home mailing addresses will be allowed to vote in person April 28.
The bill also:
– Extends professional licenses for those who cannot get them renewed.
– Allows local governments to hold public meetings remotely and with transparency.
– Extends the income tax deadline to July 15.
– Provides funding for small businesses, such as day cares and services for the disabled.