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Ohio lawmakers pass bill addressing coronavirus

COLUMBUS (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 Ohio lawmakers to address the impact of the coronavirus.

The bill also would allow high school seniors to graduate if they were on track already, waive district and school report cards, let school districts use distance learning to make up for missed days caused by the virus-related closure of districts statewide, and freeze the school voucher program at the current level of 517 schools.

Recent nursing graduates could receive a temporary certification to allow them to begin work immediately, and people unable to renew drivers’ licenses or professional licenses wouldn’t be penalized. The deadline for filing state income taxes would be extended until July 15 under the legislation approved unanimously by the Senate, followed by the House.

The bill heads to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine who’s expected to sign it soon, but not Wednesday.

Among additional provisions, the bill allows open meetings to be conducted electronically as long as the public is notified and can participate.