Legislative Update: Ohio House to examine self-driving cars

COLUMBUS — Discussions on new automotive technology has made its way to the state capitol.

Ohio House of Representatives

The House Transportation and Public Safety Committee will hold a seven-month long study on autonomous and connected vehicles. Hearings will touch on a variety of facets of the issue, with the first hearing to take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with the subject being “Autonomous and Connected Vehicles 101.”

“This seven-month study is intended to be solely fact-finding in nature,” according to committee chairman Doug Green, R-Mount Orab. “The General Assembly needs to be informed so that it can first understand how to be a partner of the industry and not stifle innovation. Second, we need to understand how to balance that partnership with the need to protect consumers, and third, we must have constructive dialogue about the nature of self-driving cars and their expected rollout with the people of Ohio. Finally, autonomous and connected vehicle technology is the opening salvo of the next space race, involving the emerging technologies of the 21st century. We must ensure that America, and Ohio in particular, maintains its leadership in advanced technologies, much like our predecessors did in the 1960s.”

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: Brown has urged lawmakers to take action on the School Building Improvement Act of 2017, a bill authored by Brown that would provide direct grants and construction bonds to update schools, legislation that Brown said would create an estimated 1.9 million jobs annually. Brown also called for any school improvements to be done using American-made products.

“Students can’t learn in schools that are crumbling around them,” Brown said. “If we want to prepare students for 21st century jobs, we need to invest in 21st century classrooms. That investment will also support good jobs, putting Ohioans to work rebuilding schools with American-made materials.”

On Thursday, Brown, along with Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced the Opioid Quota Openness, Transparency and Awareness Act. The aim of the bill is to “shed light on annual quotas for prescription painkillers that are taking lives all across Ohio,” according to a statement from Brown’s office.

The bill would require the U.S. Attorney General to make quotas for a painkiller issued to a registered manufacturer available through the Drug Enforcement Agency’s website. The bill would also make applications submitted to the DEA by registered manufacturers requesting a particular quantity of active ingredient available to the public.

“Drug companies and the DEA have a responsibility to make sure they aren’t over-producing opioids that end up on Ohio streets,” Brown said. “As Ohio communities continue to combat the opioid crisis, they deserve to know that the DEA is doing its job to hold drug companies accountable.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: Portman announced Friday that several priorities outlined in his health care plan have been incorporated and unanimously passed into the Creating High Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act. These priorities include extending the Independence at Home Act by two years to help reduce hospital readmissions for seniors, initiating a program to give accountable care organizations the ability to make incentive payments to members who seek preventative care or chronic disease management services, and ensuring that low-income, disabled and dually-eligible seniors can still have access to Medicare Advantage Plans.

“The CHRONIC Care Act will help strengthen our health care system by empowering patients with tools they need to better manage their health care and increasing the coordination of care to help patients and providers better manage chronic conditions,” Portman said. “The bill also includes a number of priorities I have worked on, including ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries can receive high-quality, personalized care at home, incentivizing beneficiaries to receive preventive services and better manage their health care, and ensuring the Medicare Advantage program includes accurate quality measures to incentive plans to continue to care for low-income seniors.”

Sherrod Brown, left, Rob Portman, and Doug Green

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.

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