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Synchronized multiple prescriptions will limit trips to the pharmacy

By MARC KOVAC Dix Capital Bureau Chief Published: August 19, 2016 10:00 AM

COLUMBUS -- You'll soon be able to imbibe higher alcohol content beer, synchronize multiple prescriptions so they can be filled on the same day and push for criminal penalties against people threatening you online, thanks to law changes passed by the Ohio House and Senate and signed by Gov. John Kasich in recent weeks.

Here are 10 of 60 law changes OK'd before lawmakers left Columbus for their summer recess, with most set to take effect in August or September:

1. All in the Family: There's a new state law, enacted as part of HB 229, that allows for the establishment and operation of "family trust companies." The bill was offered as a way for Ohioans in long-term care to maintain their Medicaid eligibility.

"The majority of individuals who will need these trusts are residents of long-term care facilities, such as skilled nursing centers," said Rep. Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick), a primary co-sponsor of the legislation. "A qualified income trust is described in federal and state law as a very simple instrument that receives a portion of the person's income each month and immediately pays it out to cover their contribution to their Medicaid services and other legally required expenses."

2. More Prison Time for Gun Crimes: SB 97 will increase the mandatory prison time required for those convicted of certain crimes involving firearms.

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"We've done a lot of good work in this chamber and through both chambers to do sentencing reform and make sure that people that belong in other settings other than the penitentiaries are getting the kind of treatment and support and help that they need to get their lives turned around," said Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley), a primary sponsor of the measure. "But there are a small subset of our society that are really dangerous that need to be off the streets for our public safety. This bill goes after those individuals and makes sure that we do have beds for them in the prison, because those are the people that belong there."

3. Veterans IDs: HB 173 allows county officials to issue veteran identification cards to confirm their military status, codifying a program that's already being used in some counties.

The wallet-sized IDs can be used instead of discharge papers or other documents, as needed, and have led to an increase in the number of discharge papers being filed at county recorder offices.

According to Franklin County Recorder Terry Brown, "In 2013, Franklin County became the second county in Ohio to issue Veteran Identification Cards. Since then, we have worked with more than 36 counties to help them begin their own identification card program/ The new legislation makes these cards permissive statewide, an allowance that is expected to increase their availability to our veterans across Ohio. What's more, the law will standardize the design of the cards, so every county recorder's card looks the same across the state."

4. Hot Cars and Kids: A new state law will provide protections for individuals who bust into cars on hot days to save kids or pets.

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That's thanks to SB 215, which grants civil immunity from any damage caused during the forcible entry into a vehicle to remove an animal or minor, as long individuals determine vehicles are locked, there's no other way in and occupants are in danger.

There are a few caveats: You'll have to call the police or emergency responders first and remain with the youngsters or animals until those responders arrive at the scene.

You'll also have to make sure the vehicle is locked and determine there's no other reasonable way to save the occupants.

And your actions can't be reckless.

5. Beer: When HB 37 left the Ohio House more than a year ago, it was a short bill focused on allowing consumption of beer and intoxicating liquors at specified markets in the state.

But it came back from the Ohio Senate with language, long sought by some lawmakers, to eliminate the alcohol content limits on beer, previously set at 12 percent.

Backers say the move will provide a boost to craft brewers creating specialty beverages.

"This is not what you would call a drinking beer, this is not a cheap beer, this is not a way to get drunk/," Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) said during the final floor vote on the bill. "It is a sipping beer, and it is essentially an extension of an art form."

6. Pet Emergencies: First off, don't go calling 9-1-1 if Fido's hurt.

But HB 187 will allow emergency responders to treat injured dogs or cats at accident scenes.

Treatments covered by the bill include "opening and manually maintaining an airway," "giving mouth-to-snout or mouth-to-barrier ventilation," controlling bleeding, immobilizing broken bones and bandaging wounds, according to an analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission.

Also, "The services may be provided only to the extent that the first responder/ is authorized by existing law to perform the corresponding form of the services when providing emergency medical services to a human patient."

7. Pharmacy Visits: Are you tired of having to go to the pharmacy multiple days each week or month to have needed prescriptions refilled.

HB 116, a medication synchronization bill, might help. The legislation will allow patients dealing with chronic conditions -- heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. -- to work with their doctors and pharmacists to have their prescriptions refilled on the same day each month.

Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), who is a pharmacist, said prior to the Senate vote last month that nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults age 65 or older are using five or more prescription medications.

8. Dead People: HB 240 included a number of changes to state laws related to coroners, including allowing county commissioners to contract for related services with another county's coroner and requiring coroners to "deliver a deceased person's firearm" to the police chief or sheriff where the body is found, with a procedure for relatives to request the firearm's return.

One other provision in the legislation: The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction or the Department of Youth Services will have to pay the costs of autopsies if an inmate dies while in custody at a state facility.

9. Autism Scholarships: The state has a scholarship program that provides funding for students with autism to attend a school outside of the district where they live.

HB 299 expanded eligibility for the scholarships to allow custodial parents -- that's opposed to natural or adopted parents -- to sign kids up for autism scholarships.

10. Harassment and Stalking: HB 151 expanded the state law definition of "menacing by stalking" to include messages and communications posted using electronic telecommunications devices.

According to the Legislative Service Commission, the bill "prohibits a person from knowingly posting a text or audio statement or an image on an Internet website or webpage for the purpose of abusing, threatening or harassing another person."


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