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Bills to prevent utility shutoffs, evictions and foreclosures introduced in Ohio House

David C. DeWitt, Ohio Capital Journal

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State Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus. Photo from Ohio House website.

Two separate bills have been introduced in the Ohio House to address economic hardships stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, including one to prevent evictions and foreclosures and the other to prevent utility shutoffs.

On Sunday, state Reps. David Leland, D-Columbus, and Jeffrey Crossman, D-Parma, introduced a bipartisan bill to put a stop to evictions and foreclosures for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The bill was written in consultation with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, a release said.

“What we learned from the Great Recession is that failing to do enough to keep people in their homes will devastate communities across the state, and we need to do as much as possible to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” Crossman said.

Leland introduced separate legislation Monday looking to prevent utility shutoffs to residences during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to utilities regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the bill would require unregulated utilities and submetering companies to continue to provide service through the emergency, a release said.

“A lot of people are taking a big hit to their income,” Leland said. “As we all stay at home to fight this common enemy, we need to make sure Ohioans don’t have their lights turned off because they can’t make a payment.”

PUCO has instructed its utility companies to review and change policies that might risk service continuity hardships for their ratepayers, and most regulated utilities have said publicly they plan to continue providing service through the next several months, the release said.

Both bills include emergency clauses, meaning they would take effect immediately upon being signed.

David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.

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