From legalizing medical marijuana, to new limits on abortion and expanding gun laws, Ohio lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich had a busy year in 2016.
Here’s a look at some of the new laws in Ohio and how they impact you:
1. Legalized medical marijuana
On June 8, Gov. Kasich legalized marijuana use in Ohio. The bill passed by the legislature will create a Medical Marijuana Control Program. Up to 40 stores will be able to operate statewide once the system is up and running. However, smoking marijuana will remain illegal and all recreational use remains illegal.
2. Ban on abortions after 20 weeks
Abortions after 20-weeks gestation will be banned in Ohio in about three months. While Gov. Kasich signed the 20-week ban, he vetoed the ‘heartbeat’ bill which would have outlawed abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Earlier in the year, a new law went into effect that requires the Department of Health to make sure state funds are not used to perform abortions.
Republicans backed the bill, arguing that at 20 weeks a fetus can feel pain and should be treated as a human being. State Rep. Bob Cupp, a Republican and former state Supreme Court justice, said a ruling against the constitutionality of a 20-week ban isn’t a foregone conclusion.
3. Expanded concealed-carry gun laws
Active duty members of the Armed Forces no longer need a concealed handgun license to carry their weapon, as long as they have valid military ID and can prove training on the weapon. Employers can no longer punish workers who have a gun in their car on company property. Also, a prohibition was lifted allowing properly licensed concealed handguns on college campuses, day-care centers and some other buildings.
4. Fighting heroin epidemic
House Bill 110 requires emergency medical personnel to administer naloxone to save lives from overdoses. The new law also prohibits arresting or punishing someone who calls 911 to save someone from a drug overdose. However, that immunity is only good twice. One controversial part of the law is that it allows medical personnel to report the names and addresses of overdose victims to law enforcement.
5. New protections for animals
House Bill 60 was signed in June and increases the penalties on people who abuse animals in an effort to obtain painkillers from veterinarians. The bill also strengthened the penalties for assaulting a police dog or horse. Now if a police animal is killed in an assault there is a mandatory prison term and fine. Late in the session, lawmakers also outlawed bestiality. Ohio was one of the few states that still did not have a law on the books prohibiting sex with animals. In May, Kasich signed a law allowing medical personnel to aid injured pets when they are called to the scene of an emergency such as a house fire. Once human injuries are handled, EMS can now help animals. Senate Bill 215 also allows immunity from civil liability for someone who damages a vehicle to rescue an animal in danger.
6. Sales tax holiday
In May, Ohio designated a three-day sales tax holiday during which sales of back-to-school clothing and school supplies are exempt from taxes. The sales tax holiday is currently a one-time event. State Rep. Niraj Antani told the Dayton Daily News that legislators will try to pass a deal next year to make it a reoccurring, permanent tax break.
7. Changes in schools
A new law passed this year requires Ohio students to take CPR training. Another new law prohibits suspending students over repeated absences. Districts would have to set up an intervention team for habitually truant students.
8. You can register to vote online starting Jan. 1
In June, Kasich signed a law allowing Ohioans to register to vote online. However, the law did not take effect in time for the November presidential election. Currently, Ohioans have to register to vote on paper. Starting in 2017, anyone with a drivers license or state-issued ID can register to vote at the secretary of state’s website.
9. Cities are not allowed to increase minimum wage
Hidden in a bill dealing with regulation of pet stores, lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting cities or other governments from establishing a minimum wage different that the state level. This action came as Cleveland voters were set to decide in May whether to phase in a $15-an-hour local minimum wage.
10. New requirements for drivers when passing bikes
Bike riding in Ohio is gaining popularity, which also means more opportunity for accidents. On Dec. 19, Kasich signed a law that requires vehicle operators to leave three feet of distance when passing a bicycle. Some cities such as Dayton already had a three-feet law on the books at the local level.
What week and month is it?
State lawmakers also designated a lot of special months, days and weeks. Here’s a look at some of the new ones:
Thyroid Health Awareness Month: January
Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day: Feb. 17
Asthma Awareness Month: May
Service Dog Awareness Week: Last week of July
Blue Star Mothers Day: Fourth Sunday of July
Ohio Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: Saturday before Thanksgiving
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