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Ohio Legislative Update

By Michael E. Cicero, Member

I hope the New Year finds each and every one of you in good health and good spirits.  Below is a summary of some of the more interesting legislation recently enacted by the Ohio Legislature, which will take effect in the coming weeks:

Senate Bill 54:

  • Aims to reduce the number of “spoof” or “robo” calls.
  • Allows the Attorney General to investigate alleged violations and to impose civil penalties.
  • Also specifies that a violation that involves a consumer transaction is considered “an unfair or deceptive act or practice” and authorizes the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute as appropriate.

House Bill 9:

  • Prohibits a retailer from selling or otherwise providing a drug containing dextromethorphan to any person under the age of 18 without a valid prescription.
  • This would ban the sale of certain cough medicines with an intent of reducing minors from “robotripping” on such medicines due to the hallucinogenic effects of dextromethorphan.
  • More than 125 OTC medicines sold to treat the symptoms of cough and colds have DXM. It is commonly found in brands such as Coricidin, Dimetapp DM, Nyquil, Robitussin DM, Robitussin CF, and Robitussin Cough and Cold, as well as store brands for cough and cold medicines.
  • The retailer, including a pharmacy, may not knowingly supply, deliver, give, or otherwise provide a drug that contains any amount of dextromethorphan to an individual under the age of 18 (without a valid prescription).
  • The retailer (and their employees) must request proof of age and identity unless “the outward appearance is such that the seller can reasonably presume the purchaser is 25 or older”.
  • While the retailer, or employee, is not liable for civil damages, the act labels violations as a minor misdemeanor.

Senate Bill 9:

  • Expands the definition of “designated public service worker” to include the following: emergency service telecommunicators, certain Ohio National Guard members, protective service workers, forensic mental health providers, mental health evaluation providers, and regional psychiatric hospital employees.
  • These individuals are now eligible to have certain residential and familiar information exempt from disclosure under Public Records Law, may have their address redacted from any record of the public office that is publicly available on the internet, and may request the county auditor to abbreviate their names (and those names of their spouse) on public records.

Senate Bill 126:

  • Revises the criminal definition of hazing to: (1) include any act to continue or reinstate membership in or affiliation with any student or other organization; and (2) hazing may include coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse.
  • An organization means a national or international organization with which a fraternity, sorority, or other organization is affiliated.
  • Adds the following list of people to those prohibited from recklessly permitting hazing: teachers, consultants, alumni, and volunteers of any organization – already included were administrators, employees, and faculty members.
  • Specifies that this prohibition applies only to hazing of any person associated with the organization rather than “any person in general” as under former law.
  • No individual shall recklessly participate in the hazing of another when hazing includes coerced consumption or alcohol or drugs and an administrator, employee, faculty member, teacher, consultant, alumnus, or volunteer, who are acting in an official and professional capacity must immediately report any knowledge of hazing to local law enforcement.
  • Violation of this law is a fourth degree misdemeanor (up to 30 days jail and/or a $250 fine) unless serious physical harm occurs, then it is a first degree misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.)

Michael Cicero is a Member with NGC and practices at the local, state, and federal levels in business and public sector law, including civil and criminal trial and appellate litigation, Section 1983 civil rights defense, planning and zoning, and other areas. For more information on this Ohio Legislative Update, please contact Mike at [email protected].