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Ohio House OKs bill protecting nurses from mandatory OT

• Jun 14, 2018 at 7:00 PM

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) said he applauded the House passage of legislation he sponsored that prevents Ohio nurses from being forced to work mandatory overtime.

Introduced in December, House Bill 456 seeks to protect nurses from being compelled to work overtime shifts under threat of discontinued employment or disciplinary action.

Outside of stipulated situations, such as local healthcare disasters or amidst a surgical procedure, House Bill 456 allows nurses to choose whether they are fit, physically and mentally, to work unscheduled overtime. In addition, the bill specifies that a hospital can maintain an on-call system and summon a nurse to work while on-call if needed.

The bill was drafted in response to reports that many Ohio nurses are often forced to commit to overtime hours, working upwards of 12-hour days with very little time to sleep and recover. This puts nurses at risk for extreme fatigue, leading to such tragedies as life-threatening mistakes on the job or falling asleep at the wheel.

According to the American Nurses Association’s Health Risk Appraisal, 57 percent of the over-10,000 surveyed admitted to working extra hours to handle their workload, and 82 percent said workplace stress is their biggest personal health risk.

The Ohio Nurses Association said some facilities threaten nurses with termination if they don't work the extra time.

“Too many nurses today are suffering from overwork and burnout. When an exhausted nurse is forced to work unplanned, additional shifts, it puts patients at risk,” Sprague said. “House Bill 456 fixes that. We all want to ensure the highest levels of patient care and this legislation is the direct result of our Ohio hospitals and nurses coming together to achieve that goal.”

The House last week voted 74-10 to approve this bill, wgucg aims to improve patient safety and care — especially during standard day-to-day operations at hospitals.

House Bill 456 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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After a two-month hiatus, Ohio House votes on a whopping 28 bills

By Jim Siegel - The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

Meeting for the first time in two months following an ugly leadership fight, the Ohio House took action Thursday on 28 bills, including money for new voting machines, pay raises for state workers, updates to child-support laws and a ban on forced overtime for nurses.

"I'm glad to have this over with and getting some work done," said Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, following his first session in the top spot that he won after the House voted 11 times Wednesday.

The House sent 11 bills to Gov. John Kasich for his signature, including one that would provide $114.5 million to help counties pay for new voting machines. Most of Ohio's voting equipment was purchased in 2005 and 2006 with federal money, and it has grown outdated and tougher to repair.

The funding is designed to cover the lowest-cost paper-ballot machines known as optical scan. But counties also can choose to go with more expensive touch-screen machines or hybrid models.

Passage "puts Ohio on track to update its election technology well ahead of the 2020 presidential election," said Secretary of State Jon Husted. "We've worked hard in recent years to make Ohio a national leader in elections administration, and the purchase of new voting machines across all 88 counties will help us to continue that effort."

The House also unanimously approved updates to Ohio child-support guidelines, which advocates say will allow for more appropriate payments based on a parent's ability to pay.

House Bill 366 updates tables used to calculate payments, creates a standard deduction when a parent has multiple orders, caps the allowable credit for shared child-care expenses at the statewide average, and better takes into account time that the child spends with a non-custodial parent.

"Having worked on child-support issues for over 20 years, I understand the frustration everyone involved in the process deals with because of the antiquated guidelines," said Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green. "Unfortunately, the attempts in recent years to make these long overdue changes never really progressed."

In other business:

• A multi-faceted bill that includes an 8.5 percent pay raise for non-union state workers is heading to Kasich. The raise matches that granted to union workers. The bill also deals with other issues for non-union workers, such as allowing them to sell up to 40 hours of vacation time if the worker has accrued 200 hours.

House Bill 456 now will go to the Senate.

• Individuals wrongly imprisoned because of the intentional withholding of evidence by prosecutors would be eligible for financial compensation by the state under House Bill 411, which passed the House 75-9.

"To truly address the wrong that was done to them, we should compensate wrongfully imprisoned Ohioans," said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, a joint sponsor of the bill, which now will go to the Senate.

A number of county prosecutors opposed the bill, arguing it would cause confusion, and potentially cost taxpayers up to $20 million paid to those who could not show their innocence by a preponderance of evidence.

• House Bill 433 gives an incentive for Ohio veterinarians to offer free spay and neutering services by providing them up to two continuing education credits per biennium. Sponsors say it's an effort to combat pet overpopulation that, for example, leads to more than 100,000 dogs per year impounded at Ohio's county-run animal shelters.

• A sales tax exemption bill for oil and gas drilling picked up a Senate amendment that would prohibit, for another year, additional fireworks retail stores from opening in Ohio. It is headed to Kasich.

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©2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

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