New Year, New Laws

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City and state laws on cigarettes, charter schools, and elections will go into effect in 2016.  

City Council passed two pieces of legislation against tobacco usage.  One ordinance bans the sale and distribution of tobacco products to anyone under 21.  At an earlier December hearing for opponents to tobacco related ordinances, Thomas Holmes from the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers spoke out.

"It discriminates against adults who legally have the right to use tobacco products," says Holmes.

Enforcement begins in June.  A separate resolution calls for the creation of a group to explore hiring only tobacco-free employees.

Statewide, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will begin enforcing its underground damage prevention law.  The new law creates the Underground Technical Committee, which will investigate cases of commercial excavation violations.  Matt Schilling from the Commission says the committee will impose penalties on those who do not alert the state before they start digging.

"The committee is going take a look to see what enforcement measures may take place," says Schilling.

"That could be monetary fines up to $10,000."

Also coming up this year – a later primary election.  State legislators voted to move the primaries back a week, from March 8 to March 15.  Republican National Committee rules say that if a state holds its primary before the 15thstate delegates must be proportionally divided among GOP candidates.  With the new date, all delegates can choose the same candidate. 

Effective February 1, 2016 is House Bill 2, which brings greater scrutiny in the areas of charter school management and sponsorship.  The bill also requires the Department of Education to take a look at how it measures student academic performance. 

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