State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) has announced that Governor John Kasich has officially signed House Bill 115, a bill that establishes a voluntary program to help facilitate effective communication between law enforcement and individuals with communication disabilities.
Under the legislation, jointly sponsored by Gavarone and Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), individuals may voluntarily submit a verification form, signed by their physician, to the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles to be designated as an individual with a communication disability. This information is then made available to state and local law enforcement only through the Law Enforcement Automated Data Systems, more commonly referred to as LEADS.
Ultimately, the legislation aims to be a positive, beneficial resource for the law enforcement community and people who suffer from communication disabilities such as autism, a hearing impairment and PTSD. By notifying officers that the driver may have difficulty speaking before they approach the vehicle, it allows them to put into action their training for how to best serve disabled individuals.
The bill allows Ohioans over the age of 18 to enroll in the system, as well as minors who are enrolled by their parents or guardians. The database would also be a private, no-labels system to which only offices have access, providing privacy to those who choose to enroll.
The House concurred on Senate amendments to the bill on April 11, and it will be effective 90 days from signature.