COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A proposed constitutional amendment passed its latest hurdle at the Ohio Statehouse Monday. With a unanimous vote, the Ohio Ballot Board certified the “Ohio Nursing Facility Patients’ Bill of Rights” as a single measure.
The procedural step comes after Attorney General Dave Yost certified the petition on July 1.
The proposal, also known as “Carolyn’s Law,” is named for Carolyn Ruffin, an Ohio woman who died in 2018 after several years in a long term rehabilitation facility. Monday, the attorney for Jesse Ruffin, Jr., Carolyn Ruffin’s husband, submitted testimony to the Ballot Board.
“He made a vow to her that he would stay at her hospital bed every night for the rest of her life… which he did for 3 and a half years,” attorney Corey Colombo told Board members.
Ruffin, Jr. blames his wife’s declining quality of life and eventual death on staffing regulations at her facility. He claims nurses were routinely overseeing several dozen patients each and had limited time to dedicate to individual patient needs and care.
The proposed constitutional amendment would require the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Board of Nursing to establish new regulations, including a higher staff-to-patient ratio and minimum daily hours of direct care for patients in nursing homes or rehabilitation clinics.
“It’s a pro-nurse, pro-patient type of proposal that we hope the voters get a chance to weigh in on,” said attorney Corey Colombo.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose explained the Ballot Board was not voting on the merit of the proposal on Monday. Board members had to determine whether the proposal contained a single law or multiple laws. They unanimously agreed to certify it as a single measure.
Next, supporters of the proposal will need to gather enough signatures to put the measure on the statewide ballot. The Ballot Board will then need to certify the signatures and the language of the proposed amendment before it’s put before voters.
The deadline to add new measures to the 2021 statewide ballot has passed. “Carolyn’s Law” will need certification from the Ballot Board at least 65 days before an election for it to be included on a ballot.