COLUMBUS — During a Tuesday afternoon livestream, Gov. Mike DeWine signed three bills into law. Two addressed ways to make Ohio more attractive to military families, and the third addressed healthcare services for correctional officers.
All three bills, sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate in May.
House Bill 16 allows children of active duty military to qualify for in-state tuition. As part of the law, only the student is required to live in the state on the first day of enrollment. The service member or their spouse no longer has to be an Ohio resident in order for that student to qualify for in-state tuition.
Securing residency status for in-state tuition rates has previously been challenging. Elected officials expect these changes will make Ohio more attractive to military members and veterans who are looking for some place to settle down. Dr. Cassie Barlow, former commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, helped construct the bill.
“I think this really moves us forward as a military-friendly state,” Barlow said. “As military decide where they want to be stationed for their final assignment and where they want to retire, they are continually looking for the friendliest states for military and veterans. I really believe we are in the top three.”
House Bill 287 allows military families who were receiving care through a Medicaid waiver in another state have continued access to that care upon being transferred to Ohio.
Approximately 15 of the 150 families that come to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base every year are families with special needs children.
“When families have a permanent change of station with a special needs child, they have a couple choices,” Perales explained. “One, they can leave the kids back home and get care they feel comfortable with; two, come and get lesser care, or three, bring them and pay out of pocket. None of those are good. With the help of Governor DeWine, his team and my joint sponsor Allison Russo, we were able to convince the state of Ohio to have a different funnel for military members.”
The third new law, House Bill 81, is an amendment to Ohio’s current Worker’s Compensation laws. This measure extends medical treatment received by other first responders to correctional officers, particularly for injury or disease after exposure to another person’s blood or bodily fluids. The law ensures that those officers do not have to pay out of pocket for work-related medical procedures that firefighters, police officers, and EMTs already receive.
“When first responders come into contact with bodily fluids, they go straight to get an evaluation. They can be spat upon, bled on, have excrement thrown at them,” Perales said. “With the current opioid crisis, they’re in contact with people who are drying out, vomiting. Corrections officers are often in contact with those people more than first responders. We want to make sure they’re taken care of.”