Christmas and the New Year are right around the corner, and the Ohio General Assembly has just wrapped up a busy season of legislative session.
This month we studied and debated a wide variety of issues, seeking solutions to improve the quality of life for all Ohioans. Among the legislation we passed were provisions from bills I sponsored. House Bill 471 cleared the legislature and included several matters that I championed throughout the 131st General Assembly.
As a veteran, one of my top priorities in the Ohio House is to advocate for legislation that benefits our currently serving military members and our veterans. Provisions from House Bill 423 that were included in House Bill 471 clarify Ohio’s Public Records Act to ensure that orders or other documentation regarding the deployment of those in the armed forces, reserves, or Ohio National Guard are not considered public records. This change will allow our public employees at all levels of state government the security, privacy and peace of mind they deserve while preparing for and serving out their deployment. Such documents will subsequently become public record 15 years after the published date for historical purposes.
Another bill of mine, House Bill 535, was also included as a part of House Bill 471. This legislation offers employment protection for people working in Ohio but who are a part of another state’s National Guard or Reserves, and are called to service by their unit. Such employment guarantees are currently afforded to Ohio National Guard and Reserve members, but not to out-of-state members. These provisions will help our service members, regardless of which state they are enlisted in, to keep their jobs and remain an important part of Ohio’s job sector.
These measures are only a small part of the work we’ve done this past General Assembly. In my time spent on the House Finance Committee, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the state’s biennial budget and have worked on bills ranging from taking steps to improve Ohio’s infant mortality rate to enacting policies to combat the heroin epidemic. Much has been accomplished, all with the goal of making Ohio a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I’m proud that the legislation I sponsored and made a priority has already been signed into law by the Governor. Our military service men and women sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms, and we need to do what we can to make their daily lives a little easier and more secure.
To find out more about legislation passed in the 131st General Assembly, please visit www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation.
Rick Perales is a state representative and guest columnist.