Ohio - This morning a broad, diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, disability rights leaders, religious organizations, physicians, teachers and more sent a letter to Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp requesting virtual testimony opportunities be provided to constituents to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and ensure safe and equitable access to the legislative process. The coalition also urges Ohio lawmakers to require masks be worn by everyone within the Statehouse.
These are common sense solutions that will not only protect the health and wellbeing of legislative and Statehouse staff, but also that of members of the press corps and members of the public who want to have their voices heard -throughout and after this pandemic - on legislation that will affect their lives for years to come.
Even before the pandemic, the Ohio Statehouse itself and legislative proceedings were not very accessible to the general public. From taking off of work or caring for a loved one, to driving long distances, paying to park, navigating an unfamiliar building, and knowing where to readily access dates, times, and locations of hearings and how to properly submit testimony, participating in state legislative activity in-person can be a cumbersome and confusing process to most people. All of these obstacles have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health crisis that continues to ravage our state and nation.