MARC KOVAC: Election bill, adoption rights law signed

record-Courier Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- I mentioned last week that state lawmakers finished several marathon sessions before breaking for the holidays, passing dozens of bills and resolutions.

Gov. John Kasich followed suit with his own marathon bill-signing session at the Statehouse, enacting bills to clarify tax code, reduce cost increases for the state's Medicaid program and create a license plate to draw awareness to ovarian cancer.

Here's the rundown of Ohio's newest laws:

n The most controversial legislation on the list is SB 200, which makes changes to the state's election laws, requiring increased checks of voter eligibility using other agency databases and potentially allows counties to have fewer voting machines at the polls.

Proponents say the bill will help to ensure only eligible Ohioans are casting ballots and will eliminate a costly mandate on counties. Opponents say it's another Republican attempt to block Ohioans from participating in elections.

n SB 23 will make it easier for some adoptees to learn more about their biological parents.

The legislation repeals an existing state law that blocked individuals adopted between 1964 and '96 from accessing their files without a court order. It also gives biological parents who don't want their identities known time to redact their names.

n The governor gave his final approval to SB 206, a Medicaid reform package that seeks to limit spending increases while ensuring needy Ohioans have access to health care. The new law creates a joint committee to oversee the state's Medicaid program, keeping closer tabs on costs and services provided to eligible residents.

n HB 311 makes a number of clarifications to state tax code, including language ensuring property owners eligible for a break on their property taxes under the state's prior homestead exemption law will continue to receive the benefit, even if they move to another residence.

According to an analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission, "The recipient retains grandfathered status for the new homestead as long as the recipient received the exemption for tax year 2013 (or tax year 2014 for a manufactured home subject to the manufactured home tax) for any other homestead."

n If you see a highway maintenance vehicle parked along the road, you better move over.

Because a new state law, SB 137, requires drivers to move over or slow down when passing such snowplows, road sweepers and a list of other vehicles. Drivers already were required to move over for law enforcement, emergency responders and certain service vehicles.

n And don't even think about selling or installing a counterfeit or nonfunctioning airbag into someone's car. Those are illegal under HB 177, with increased penalties for cases where improperly replaced airbags result in death or injury.

n HB 147 seeks to help women dealing with breast cancer, with a focus on reconstruction. HB 23 creates an Ovarian Cancer Awareness license plate.

n SB 68 makes changes to the state architecture board, and HB 126 is related to power of attorney and living will laws.

I'd tell you more but you'd probably fall asleep.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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