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Updated: Ohio Senate approves bill addressing coronavirus impact

FILE - In this March 5, 2019 file photo, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, center, speaks between Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, left, and Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Lawmakers plan to address the disrupted school year and the postponed Ohio primary when they return to Columbus this week. DeWine says much of what the legislature will address involves flexibility in meeting the daily challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. he GOP-controlled House and Senate are both scheduled to meet Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and Thursday. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mandatory state testing for schools would be ditched this year and Ohioans who didn’t vote in the March 17 primary would have until April 28 to cast an absentee ballot, under emergency legislation approved Wednesday by the Ohio Senate to address the impact of the coronavirus.

The bill also allows high school seniors to graduate if they were on track already, waives district and school report cards, lets school districts use distance learning to make up for missed days caused by the virus-related closure of districts state wide, and freezes the school voucher program at current levels.

Recent nursing graduates can receive a temporary certification to allow them to begin work immediately, people unable to renew drivers’ licenses won’t be penalized, and the deadline for filing state income taxes is extended until July 15, under the legislation approved the legislation unanimously.

Seven members of the 33-member body were absent after Senate President Larry Obhof told anyone not feeling well to stay away. Many lawmakers were dressed casually, as Obhof had discouraged business attire, “which is cleaned less frequently than casual clothing.”

The bill was scheduled for consideration later Wednesday by the House, which planned to divide its 99 lawmakers into eight rooms around the Statehouse to allow for social distancing.

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