Guest Editorial Week of 6/08/20

By State Rep. D.J. Swearingen

Health care, domestic violence bills on lawmakers’ agenda

Since returning to the statehouse a few weeks ago, the Ohio House of Representatives have been hard at work as significant, bipartisan legislation have been recently passed for the people across our state. As your state representative, I wanted to give you an update on these bills and the Business Expansion and Safety Act, which I have been recently testifying on and supporting down at our Capitol.
First, in a unanimous vote, the House passed Aisha’s Law – a bill that provides further protections for victims of domestic violence. Aisha’s Law was introduced after Aisha Fisher was repeatedly abused and eventually killed by her ex-husband in front of their small children. With over 38,400 cases of domestic violence incident charges in Ohio for 2018, I am proud to have supported this legislation that takes many new initiatives to protect victims and hopefully reduce the amount of domestic violence occurring in our state. With some reports indicating a rise in the incidents during the coronavirus, this issue needed to be addressed and I look forward to the bill progressing over in the Senate.
Secondly, I voted to support the Family Pocketbook Protection Act. One of the leading causes of bankruptcy in our country is large medical bills. The legislation corrects the nationwide issue of ending surprise billing here in Ohio. Surprise medical bills are unexpected charges patients face after receiving care from an out-of-network health care practitioner at an in-network health care facility. The Family Pocketbook Protection Act ends surprise billing and puts in place a fair billing arbitration process between insurers and medical providers. The plan is expected to help reduce health care costs.
According to Stanford University researchers, surprise billing is on the rise across America and so is the expense, with average costs tripling over a seven-year period to more than $2,000 per bill. I look forward to seeing this legislation make its way through the process and hopefully signed into law to ensure Ohioans are not met with these large out-of-pocket health care expenses.
Additionally, I have recently introduced the Business Expansion and Safety Act, which aims to bring revenue and safety back to main street businesses as coronavirus restrictions continue. Essentially, the bill allows bars, restaurants, breweries and wineries to have greater flexibility to bring in revenue and assist them in creating a safer, more socially distanced-friendly environment as our economy reopens.
Specifically, the legislation:
• Allows for retail permit holders to utilize more outside space on private or public property with approval from the local township or municipality while serving customers;
• Codify into permanent law the “carry-out” drinks allowance by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission; and
• Allows for third party delivery for carryout alcohol for those over the age of 21.
Ohioans have had to adapt to COVID-19, and the Business Expansion and Safety Act is adapting to what our businesses and workers have had to endure due to the economic shutdown. I am excited to push for the support of this bill as it helps both our businesses and their employees by giving them opportunities to generate more revenue and earn a paycheck. Simultaneously, the ways in which revenue will be increased – using more outside public spaces and allowing more carry-out, adheres to more safety as it instills more social distancing protocols as we reopen establishments within our state.
I want to thank you all for your feedback during this crucial time in our state’s history. I understand this has not been a simple or easy time for you and your families as we continue to find innovative and multifaceted approaches in combating COVID-19 while we get back to a sense of normalcy within our daily lives. If you need to contact my office, feel free to email or give us a call at (614) 644-6011.


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