The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
Ohio House Republicans announced Wednesday a proposal pay $1,000 bonuses to police, firefighters, and EMS workers.
Relief dollars from the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s signature COVID-19 economic relief package, would pay for the checks. The plan at large would cost about $83 million, the sponsors said.
Rep. Craig Riedel, R-Defiance, said at a press conference the idea came from Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis recently enacted a similar idea.
“This last year and a half have been some really difficult times for our country, and in particular, first responders and law enforcement, they have been put in some very, very difficult situations,” he said. “What we’re doing here in Ohio is saying, we have your back.”
While the proposal is tailored toward “first responders,” the sponsors said the bonuses would not apply to doctors or nurses who provided direct care during the pandemic.
Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, said health care workers operate in a “controlled environment” in terms of personal protective equipment and other factors to mitigate COVID-19, unlike police.
“We anticipated that question, the only answer is, god bless those people, they did a great job,” Plummer said. “Maybe somebody will do that for them. The key to this was the uncontrolled environment first responders had to work in.”
In April, Gov. Mike DeWine said he was working with Plummer, a former sheriff, to introduce a package of police reforms like banning chokeholds, requiring the use of body cameras, establishing a system for independent investigations of officers’ uses of force, and creating a statewide use of force database. This has yet to be introduced, though Plummer said negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re close,” he said.