With a new year often comes changes to the laws that impact our everyday lives. As we move through the end of 2020, it’s time to take a look at the law changes coming to Ohio in 2021. This year’s changes will have an impact on education, concealed carry permits, and clean energy.
Education Changes Amid COVID-19
The reading test score required to promote Ohio third-graders to fourth grade was annually adjusted upwards in the past. However, with Senate Bill 319, the minimum reading test score will remain the same through the 2021 school year. According to Senator Matt Huffman, this leniency is needed because children have had to learn at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic—leading to varying success.
In addition to keeping the minimum third-grade reading score stable, other changes included in SB 319 include the following:
- Public schools do not have to establish reading improvement plans.
- Teachers do not have to provide remediation to struggling readers.
- If a high school student’s end-of-year exams were canceled, their final course grades could be used in lieu of the test to satisfy conditions for a high school diploma.
- The state will develop an online training program to satisfy the classroom portion of bus driver training and certification.
- When teachers and principals are evaluated at the end of the school year, districts do not have to measure student academic growth.
It’s possible that more changes could happen regarding public education as the school year progresses, and we enter into the middle of 2021.
Changes to Concealed Carry Permit Requirements
A recent change to Ohio law will make it easier for residents to apply for and renew concealed carry weapons permits. In addition to that, the law could lead to better service for residents from sheriff’s offices.
The change is connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a backup in permits. The new law allows state residents to seek or renew a concealed carry permit at any sheriff’s office in the state. Prior to this change, residents were only allowed to get a license in the county they resided in or an adjoining county—which would cause delays for those who wanted a permit because of how busy some of the officers were or because of the limited hours available at some offices.
In many counties, sheriff’s officials are expecting the impact of the new law to be minimal. If anything, the changes were needed to ensure legal gun carriers could continue to comply with the law. It’s important to note that this change will expire on June 30, 2021. Come July of next year, the renewal process will revert to the previous law.
In addition to the change in the renewal process, the new law also extends a person’s current license if it’s scheduled to expire between March 9, 2020, and June 30, 2021, by 90 days or until June 30, 2021, whichever is later.
Aiming to Procure Clean Energy for Columbus
Columbus voters passed Ballot Issue 1, which could lower the state capital city’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a fifth. According to Erin Beck, director of special projects for the city of Columbus, the city’s goal “is to provide residents with 100% clean, renewable electricity through a community choice aggregation program by 2022. Aggregation gives us the leverage to drive these changes in a win-win for consumers, our economy, and the environment.”
While cities across the state have opted for community aggregation plans to supply residents’ electricity, Columbus’s project stands out from others in Ohio because of the size of its population and because city leaders also made an upfront decision to procure all renewable energy for covered residents who stay in the plan.
Residents who opt-in have the option to opt-out at any time. In addition to that, the ballot initiative isn’t supposed to raise taxes. Those who supported the proposal saw it as a way to significantly advance climate action in Ohio, despite regression and stalemates on clean energy policies at the state capitol. The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, the Nature Conservancy in Ohio, Power a Clean Future Ohio, and other environmental organizations supported the proposal, as well as various church leaders and several labor groups.
There will likely be more law changes as 2021 progresses. Thomas Law Offices will stay on top of all relevant law changes to ensure our clients continue to receive the best legal representation possible.