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Title: HB 562 – Prohibit Eviction and Foreclosure During COVID-19
Referred to Committee on 5/5/20
Summary: HB 562 proposes a moratorium on eviction orders and foreclosure actions during the state of emergency, which was first declared by Governor Mike DeWine on March 9, 2020. Courts would be prohibited from issuing eviction orders for any property, whether residential or commercial, during the public emergency, and law enforcement would not be permitted to enforce eviction orders. Landlords are not prohibited from filing eviction actions during the emergency, but if the eviction is after the pandemic ends, they will not be entitled to rent that went unpaid during that period. Furthermore, courts would be prohibited from conducting any business pertaining to foreclosures, whether residential or commercial, during the public emergency. Courts must specifically refuse to do the following:

  • Refuse to accept foreclosure complaints and other pleadings to commence foreclosure actions;
  • Stay all pending foreclosure actions;
  • Refuse to accept motions or other pleadings that seeks writs of execution (including the sale of foreclosed property) in cases that result in foreclosure judgments;
  • Stay all judicial sales and sales by private selling officers
  • Defer confirming any pending judicial sales

Committees: House – Civil Justice

Title: SB 55 – Enhance Penalty for Drug Offense Near Addiction Services Provider
Passed Ohio Senate on 5/15/19; Amended bill passed Ohio House on 5/6/20
Summary: The bill enhances criminal penalties for trafficking certain substances near or within the vicinity of drug addiction services providers. Individuals trafficking Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substances, such as codeine (schedule III), certain prescription drugs or cough medicines, or marijuana, will not face enhanced penalties. Generally, drug trafficking activity that would be a fourth-degree felony becomes a third-degree felony if sold or distributed within the vicinity of the service provider. The leveled criminal penalty depends on the type and amount of the substance. If an individual traffics at least 20 grams of L.S.D., heroin, hashish, a controlled substance analog, cocaine or a fentanyl-related compound, they could face a third-degree felony.
Committees: Senate – Judiciary & House – Criminal Justice

Title: SB 310 – Provide Federal COVID-19 Funding to Local Subdivisions
Passed Senate 5/6/10; Passed House Amended on 6/4/20
Summary: The bill creates local grant programs for small businesses. Counties, municipalities, or townships are authorized under the bill to award grants to certain small businesses using CARES Act funds and funds received through direct payments from the federal government. The grant awards must go toward reimbursing the costs of necessary business interruptions or closures. A “business interruption” is defined as a mandated closure by the state COVID-19 order, or any other state official or agency, any voluntary closure to promote social distancing, or decreased customer demand attributable to the pandemic. Any costs that have been paid or reimbursed by an insurance claim or federal aid, including the paycheck protection program or economic injury disaster loan, cannot be included in the above grant program. Before a legislative authority of a local subdivision can create the grant program or distribute any funds, they must adopt and certify to the Ohio Office of Budget Management Director through a resolution that they are establishing the grant program, which meets the following minimum standards: 1) Grants will only be awarded to Ohio-based businesses with 50 or fewer employees; 2) Qualifying businesses may receive the grant in the subdivision in which they operate, or if it has multiple locations in the any one of the subdivisions where they conduct business; 3) The total grant amount received by any business cannot exceed $10,000, no matter how many awards it receives from various divisions; and 4) Affiliates of a qualifying business are included when counting the business’s total number of employees and the amount of grant funds received.
Committees: Senate – Finance; House – Finance

Title: HB 622: Suspend Child Support Obligation During COVID-19 Emergency
Referred to the House Civil Justice Committee on 5/19/20
Summary: Obligors who have lost income during the state of emergency, beginning on March 9, 2020, will have their child support payments temporarily suspended. The order would only affect obligors who were laid off, terminated, furloughed or otherwise lost their primary source of income during the state of emergency, and they are unable to fulfil their monthly child support obligation, including cash medical and healthcare coverage.

An obligor would need to notify the child support enforcement agency administering their order and inform them of his/her inability to pay. Additionally, the obligor would need to provide proof of loss of income. If the agency finds that the obligor is unable to meet their obligation, it shall notify the obligor of his/her payment suspension, the terms of the suspension and any default proceedings or enforcement mechanisms being suspended. If at the time of the investigation, a default proceeding was initiated against the obligor, but a final and enforceable determination has not been made, the agency shall suspend the default proceedings.

Other key portions of the bill include:

  1. An obligor’s driver’s license cannot be suspended during the payment holiday
  2. An obligor cannot be reported to a credit bureau for nonpayment
  3. An obligor cannot have a lien placed against their property for nonpayment
  4. An obligor will not have funds withdrawn from their financial institution to satisfy a support obligation
  5. An obligor’s income tax refund or unclaimed funds will not be intercepted to meet a support obligation
  6. Any child support obligation not fulfilled during the period of suspension cannot serve as the basis for a new default proceeding
  7. A new child support order cannot be issued if an obligor has a temporary suspension and is unable to pay
  8. The number of weeks for which a support obligation was suspended cannot count towards the determination of a felony conviction or a contempt of court for disobedience of or resistance to a court order or failure to comply with an administrative support order

Title: SB 278 – Modifies Parole Procedures
Referred to the Senate Judiciary on 5/6/20
Summary: The bill provides that a detainee may have legal counsel present during all prehearing interviews and conferences related to the detainee’s parole decision. The counselor may advise the detainee, but they are not entitled to ask questions, present information, or participate in the interview or conference. The state is not required to provide an attorney to any detainee seeking parole or pay for the cost of legal counsel during any parole hearing, interview, or conference. If the parole board is considering whether to grant parole to a detainee, they must make an official record of all information and materials it is considering in making its decision and shall grant the detainee full access to those documents. Records can include audio and video recordings and written transcripts. However, if the records contain information that would violate a victim’s safety, dignity, and privacy guaranteed by Section 10a of Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution, it should be redacted, and the detainee’s attorney cannot the information discuss with their client.
Committees: Senate – Judiciary

Title: SB 296: Abolish the Death Penalty
Introduced to Ohio Senate on 3/24/20; Referred to Judiciary Committee on 5/6/20
Summary: The legislation proposes to abolish the death penalty in Ohio and change other financial costs related to its practice. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Title: HB 552 – Regards Parole for Offenders Who Committed Offense When Under 18
Introduced into the OH House on 3/12/20; Referred to Criminal Justice Committee on 5/5/20
Summary: The bill provides special parole eligibility dates for persons serving a prison sentence for an offense, other than aggravated homicide, that was committed when the person was under 18 years old. Someone serving a sentence for aggravated homicide is not eligible for a parole review other than what was imposed in their original sentencing. Under the bill, the parole board would be required to consider mitigating factors for persons eligible for parole and if they deny that person parole, they must conduct a subsequent release review no later than five years after the denial.

The bill would change the Pardon, Parole, and Probation Law that applies to persons serving one or more prison terms for crimes they committed before they turned 18. The section would apply automatically and cannot be limited by a sentencing court. It would apply retroactively, as well, permitting individuals sentenced for older crimes, which they committed when they were under 18, to appeal to a parole board for release.
Committees: House – Criminal Justice

Title: HB 540 – Create automated voter registration and verification
First Hearing on March 11, 2020
Summary: The bill requires the Secretary of State to adopt rules to develop, implement, and administer the Automated Voter Registration and Verification System to register eligible person to vote or update their voter registrations using information from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), unless those individuals opt out. When a person visits the local BMV to renew their driver’s license, CDL or state ID card, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles should obtain all of the necessary information to register the person to vote. After obtaining the information, the Registrar must transmit it to the Secretary of State within 7 days.
Committees: House – State and Local Government Committee
Testimony: OH Rep. Gail Manning; Chris Oliveti, Staff Member w/ Secretary of State Frank LaRose

Title: SB 239 – Prohibit Sexting by Person under 19 years of age
Introduced on 11/20/19; First Ohio Senate Judiciary hearing on 2/5/2020
Summary: The bill prohibits individuals under 19 from creating, distributing, or possessing sexually explicit digital material that depicts a minor through a telecommunications device. The person possessing the material cannot be more than four years older than the minor being depicted. An exception to the prohibition is if the person being depicted is the person’s self, spouse, or child, or the child of another if the material is possessed or distributed for lawful purposes. A person who violates the proposed law, and does not complete a diversionary program, can be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, be ordered to complete eight hours of community service or serve another penalty ordered by the judge. An affirmative offense to the criminal charge is if the person did not solicit the image or video, did not share the material with others and either deleted or destroyed the image upon receipt.
Committees: Ohio Senate Judiciary
Testimony: Sponsor Testimony – Senate Nathan Manning

Title: HB 431 – Create Sexual Exploitation Database
Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
Summary: A county or city’s Clerk of Courts will be required to send a person’s conviction record, for promoting prostitution or soliciting prostitution, to the Attorney General (“AG”). The AG will establish and maintain a “Sexual Exploitation” database. The person’s record will enter the database after a guilty plea or conviction for a prostitution offense. A person’s name will automatically be removed after five years since their most recent conviction or guilty plea for the offense.
A person can also be dismissed from the registry if their conviction is overturned, expunged, or sealed. If the conviction is overturned, expunged or sealed prior to a person’s automatic removal from the database, the court must order the clerk of courts to submit an order to the Attorney General to have the conviction removed from the sexual exploitation database. Upon receipt of that order, the AG must remove the record. The AG’s office will be given $170,000 in FY 2020 and $20,000 in FY 2021.
Committees: House – Criminal Justice; Senate – Judiciary
Testimony: Esther Flores, 1DivineLine2Health; Barbara Wright, NARSOL; Blaise Katter, The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Reps. Cindy Abrams and Rick Carfagna

Title: Ohio HB 285 – Establish Driver’s License Reinstatement Fee Debt Reduction Program
Passed out of the Ohio Senate on 5/20/20 and awaiting the Ohio Governor’s signature
Summary: The bill makes the license suspension pilot program permanent and requires the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to automatically notify, by either regular mail or email, drivers who may qualify for the program. In addition, individuals who did not receive a notice, but wish to apply in person at the BMV or a deputy registrar office, may do so. The previous pilot program granted fee reductions or total waivers of license reinstatement fees owed to the BMV for driving while under suspension and if the suspension was due to an eligible offense. Under the current bill, if a person’s license was suspended for an eligible offense, it has been 18 months since the suspension and they have completed all court-ordered sanctions, they could be eligible for a complete or partial waiver of reinstatement fees, depending upon their level of indigency.
Senate – Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs
Representative Greespan – Sponsor; Representative Brent - Sponsor

Title: SB 18 – Prohibit Restraining or Confining Pregnant Female Detainee
Passed Ohio Senate on 11/13/19; Referred to House Criminal Justice Committee on 5/12/20
Summary: The bill prohibits constraining or confining a pregnant female child who is charged or adjudicated delinquent or a detained/confined pregnant mother. The bill also prevents their restraint during any of the listed time periods: any time during a child or woman’s pregnancy; during transport to a hospital; during labor and delivery; or up to six weeks in the postpartum recovery period. If any corrections or law enforcement official violates this bill, it will constitute “interfering with civil rights” and provides a civil remedy, in the form of a lawsuit, to any female child or woman who is restrained or confined in violation of the proposed statute. Exceptions to this bill are also listed and include if the official determines that the pregnant child or mother poses a serious threat of physical harm to herself, the official, other persons, or presents a substantial flight risk.
Committees: Senate – Judiciary
Testimony: Senators Antonio and Lehner, American College of Obstetricians - Ohio Section, ODRC – Ohio Reformatory for Women

Title: Ohio SB 5 – Charge Penalties for Promoting Prostitution
Effective 3/12/20
Summary: The bill modifies the penalties for repeat offenses of promoting prostitution by expanding the circumstances in which it is a third degree felony and in stances where it is a second degree felony. The fee for the Certificate of Qualification for Employment will be set at $50 for all Ohio counties. There is a rebuttable presumption of eligibility for the CQE if the court receives the petition after the applicable waiting period and after sufficient time has elapsed from the date of release. Each licensing board is also required to include information related to CQE and Certificate of Achievement and Employability on its website and on certain materials and forms. A chart summarizing the increased penalties for promoting prostitution, drug trafficking and human trafficking are included in Ms. Camille Crary’s testimony.
Committees: Senate Judiciary, House Criminal Justice
Testimony: Tiffany Tripp, Camille Crary, Senators Kunze and Dolan

Title: HB 302 – Include Child Abuse-Related Offenses in Violent Offender Database
Third Hearing on 2/13/2020
Summary: The bill, known as “Jacob’s law,” requires people convicted of domestic violence, permitting child abuse, or endangering children committed when the person was 18 or older and involved a victim that was under 14 to enroll in the violent offender database. A person must enroll with their county sheriff and provide their name and address, place of employment, offense(s), a description of scars and tattoos, SSN, driver’s or commercial driver’s license numbers, and any aliases. Failure to enroll or complete enrollment annually for ten years, and report any address changes, is a fifth-degree felony. If anyone is on supervised release, or subject to a community control sanction, failure to enroll constitutes a violation of community control and can result in reincarceration. Without the current bill, families are still able to visit local Clerk of Courts offices that maintain all public records for individuals’ criminal convictions or search for someone’s convictions online. For a complete listing of offenses that constitute child endangerment, see the legislative analysis. Endangering Children has been removed from the list of “violent offenses” that would permit someone to be included in the violent offender database.
Committees: House – Criminal Justice
Testimony: House Representative Perales; Niki Clum, Office of the Ohio Public Defender

Title: SB 160 - Expand Expungement for Felony Convictions
Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee on 6/19/19; Second hearing: 9/25/19
Proponent Testimony
Summary: The bill would allow a petition for the expungement of misdemeanors and felonies. All eligible records would be destroyed and permanently irretrievable, as opposed to being sealed and stored in a separate database. Ineligible offenses include but are not limited to: aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, permitting child abuse, patient neglect, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, arson, drug trafficking and certain other offenses.

The waiting period is ten years for a misdemeanor or a third, fourth, or fifth degree felony. A person must wait 15 years after the final discharge of their second degree felony and 20 years after their first degree felony. When someone submits their application to the court and they have more than one eligible offense, the court will consider each offense separately. The courts will also consider the seriousness of the offense, the relative degree of physical harm done to the victim, the length of time since the conviction, the applicant’s age at the time of the crime and any other criminal history.
Committees: Senate – Judiciary

Title: Ohio HB 263 - Revise Occupational License Restrictions for Former Criminals
Status: Reported Substitute Bill on 2/6/20
Summary: The bill would require that every state licensing authority establish a list of specific criminal offenses for which a conviction, judicial finding of guilt, or plea of guilty may disqualify an individual from obtaining an occupational license. This list may include only criminal offenses that are directly related to the responsibilities of the licensed occupation. The nature and seriousness of the offense, passage of time since an invidiual committed the offense, relationship of the offense to the ability, capacity and fitness required to perform duties, and evidence of mitigating rehabilitation or treatment undertaken by the individual must be considered under a clear and convincing evidentiary standard. Additionally, an offense five years from the date of conviction may not be considered, except if the offense was violent or sexually oriented. If an individual is denied an occupational license, the state licensing authority must notify the applicant in writing of their denial and make note of the reasons for refusal, right to a hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act, earliest date to reapply, and notice that evidence of rehabilitation may be considered upon reapplication.
Committees: House- Commerce and Labor
Proponent Testimonies: Representative Kyle Koehler; Michael Shields, Policy Matters Ohio; Daniel Dew, The Buckeye Institute

Title: Ohio SB 68 – Allow Community Service in lieu of Driver Reinstatement Fee
Passed Senate on 5/29/19; Fourth hearing in House Criminal Justice Committee on 6/9/20
Proponent Testimony:
Summary: The bill authorizes a municipal or county court to allow an individual to complete a community service program in lieu of paying driver’s license reinstatement fees when the court determines the person cannot reasonably pay those fees. When the individual completes community service, the court must provide documentation of service completion and the person must present the document to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles at any BMV. The bill was primarily inspired by municipal judges who wanted to provide an alternative to individuals who could not reasonably pay the reinstatement feeds. Under current law, a person’s license cannot be reinstated until they have paid all court fines and fees and completed other court sanctions. Additionally, an individual will have to pay reinstatement fees to the BMV or establish a payment plan before they can reacquire their license. Although payment plans and payment extension plans are often made available to indigent persons, their income may still not allow them to cover the full costs of the license reinstatement should they experience future financial hardship.
Committees: Senate – Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs
Proponent Testimonies: Senator Sandra Williams; Gary Daniels, ACLU of Ohio; Paul Klodor, Court Community Service; and, Suzan Sweeney, Cleveland Municipal Court

Title: Ohio HB 1 – Modify ILC and Record Sealing Requirements
Fourth hearing in Senate Judiciary on 5/27/2020
John J. Drew Witness Testimony
Summary: The bill would broaden the scope of “intervention in lieu of conviction” (ILC) program to require a court, at a minimum, to hold an eligibility hearing for each application for ILC that alleges the individual committed their crime as a result of drug or alcohol usage. The bill also requires the court to presume ILC is appropriate and to grant a request for ILC unless the court finds specific reasons to believe that the candidate’s participation in ILC would be inappropriate. If the person is denied admittance into ILC, the court must state the reasons for the denial in a written entry. However, if the person is approved for a diversion program, the bill caps the mandatory terms of the plan at no more than five years and the person must do the following for at least one year after the ILC is granted: 1) Abstain from the use of illegal drugs and alcohol; 2) Participate in treatment and recovery support services; and 3) Submit to regular random drug and alcohol testing. Finally, if approved, the person must enter a guilty plea in order to participate in the ILC program and upon their successful completion of all court requirements have their guilty plea and criminal conviction dismissed by the court. Finally, the bill would expand the state’s eligibility criteria for record sealing in both pathways. If the bill passes, a person would allow a person to seal an unlimited amount of fourth and fifth degree felonies and misdemeanors, except for violence or felony sex offenses. The second pathway would also be expanded to include up to two felony convictions, four misdemeanor convictions, or not more than two felony and two misdemeanor convictions.
Committees: House – Criminal Justice

Title: Ohio HB 215 – Modifies Corrections Law, Including Reentry and GPS Monitoring
Fourth Hearing on 2/26/20
Summary: The bill requires stricter rules for GPS monitoring, tracking of individuals subject to GPS through the law enforcement and automated database (LEADS), and establishment of a facility to house targeted offenders who are rejected by other halfway houses (usually individuals who have been incarcerated for sex offenses or arson). Law enforcement can use the LEADS system to track an individual without obtaining a subpoena or warrant. The system also provides a repository of data, like driving records, vehicle ownership, stolen property, missing persons, warrants and the parole system, in an automated system that is accessible by law enforcement, courts, and prosecutors. The system is the focal point for all data and messages entered by law enforcement agencies in Ohio, and provides additional access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) and other systems. Only individuals who are released on post-release control will be subject to the GPS monitoring requirements. There are concerns individuals could be civilly committed to a facility if they cannot be admitted into a halfway house, thereby extending their original prison sentence. The bill also does not explicitly name “targeted offenders” or if it is implies “targeted” includes anyone who cannot reside in a transitional facility.
Committees: House Criminal Justice Committee

Title: OH SB3 - Express Intent to Reform Drug Sentencing Laws
Passed Senate on 6/20/2020
Sponsor Testimony
Proponent Testimony: Mark Holden, Koch Industries, Inc.; Tim Young, Office of the Ohio Public Defender; and others
Opponent Testimony: Vic Viglucci, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, 5/29/19
Summary: Recently State Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien jointly-sponsored Senate Bill 3 – Criminal Sentencing Reform. The bill follows the defeat last fall of Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would have reduced penalties for certain individuals convicted of drug offenses and redirected the cost savings from reducing the prison population to funding behavioral health providers. The bill aims to help Ohioans struggling with drug addiction have better access to treatment and help low-level detainees successfully re-enter the workforce, while ensuring more serious and violent individuals and drug traffickers face a prison sentence. Overall, penalties would be reduced for possession of illegal drugs but tougher sentences for drug trafficking.
Committees: Senate Judiciary