Capital News: Another marathon bill signing session after lawmakers leave town

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Lawmakers moved a bunch of bills before leaving town for their spring recess.

And Gov. John Kasich signed that bunch of bills into law over the past couple of weeks, solidifying a handful of memorial road namings and other law changes that will affect everything from the color of headlights on your car to number of retailers who offer beer and liquor samplings.

Here's a quick rundown of the newest laws on Ohio's books:

• Three bills honor fallen military men and a sheriff's deputy with road designations in Summit, Auglaize and Miami counties. In Stow, for example, a stretch of Route 8 will be named in memory of Army 2nd Lt. David Rylander, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in the Logar province of Afghanistan in May 2012.

• Three new specialty license plates are being created, including one that will feature the Ohio Statehouse. The latter will cost vehicle owners an extra $35, including a $25 contribution for grants and purchases at Capitol Square. Two other plates honor disabled veterans and military men and women who are missing in action or prisoners of war.

• Better think twice before installing crazy-colored headlights on your car. A new state law requires headlamps to be white, in accordance to federal requirements. Violators could face misdemeanor charges.

• Are you a big fan of county commissioner meetings on ditch improvements? Those sessions will be allowed to be conducted using video or telephone conferencing instead of in person, under SB 155. The new law requires boards to "make provisions for public attendance at any location involved in the proceeding," according to an analysis by the Legislative Service Commission. The new law also specifies what kinds of ditch decisions can be made during such proceedings.

• There are a bunch of law changes related to professional counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists, including updated licensing requirements, board qualifications and disciplinary processes.

• Senate Bill 173 expands the types of business that would qualify for a license to sell beer and liquor samples on their premises. The new law also allows spirituous liquor samplings up to 10 times per month, an increase from the current five, among other provisions.

• A new law will require facilities to report the number of newborns diagnosed as "opioid dependent" to state health officials. The Ohio Department of Health will, in turn, report the statistics to the public, giving Ohioans a better idea of the scope of prescription painkiller and heroin addictions in the state.

• Speaking of new laws, the grace period recently ended for SB 137, which requires drivers to move over for snowplows, road sweepers and other highway maintenance vehicles.

Drivers already were required to shift lanes or reduce speed and proceed with caution when approaching law enforcement, emergency responders and service vehicles parked along highways.

SB 137 expanded the list to include highway maintenance and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio vehicles, including traffic lane stripers, mowers and "asphalt distributing" vehicles, according to the Legislative Service Commission.

Though the law has been in effect since December, a 90-day grace period on enforcement was included. That period is over, so you're risking a ticket if you don't comply.

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

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