registryFrom the Delaware Gazette

State Rep. Brian Lorenz (R-Powell) has introduced House Bill 321, “Keith’s Law.”

HB 321 would create a statewide special needs registry. The statewide special needs registry would allow family members to detail a loved one’s developmental, medical and mental health circumstance in case of an emergency. The registry would be available to first responders, allowing them to walk into emergency situations with their blinders off.

Lorenz has a personal reason for sponsorship of the bill. He has a son with autism, so he understands the unique challenges he has faced.

“I’ve seen the struggles my son has interacting with officers,” Lorenz said. “He is able to drive. He got pulled over for not having his lights on and wasn’t able to communicate well and was very anxious. Thankfully, a school resource officer pulled him over and knew my son. If the officer hadn’t known him, it could have been a tenuous situation.”

Lorenz stresses the registry would be voluntary.

“Special needs in this bill are broad. It could be for someone with mental cognition struggles, Alzheimer, mobility issues or even someone on oxygen,” he said.

Kristine Hodge, superintendent of the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, provided in-person testimony.

“As someone who cares deeply about public safety and inclusion, I believe that this legislation is crucial in ensuring that individuals with special needs receive the best possible emergency response,” she said. “Establishing an electronic statewide database will not only improve emergency response outcomes for individuals with special needs, but it will also alleviate the burden on local 9-1-1 centers. In Delaware County, many of our law enforcement, Fire, and EMS agencies separately administer their own electronic databases, and registry information is not shared between them. The establishment of a statewide registry will make it easier for all first responders to access vital information, regardless of where an emergency may occur.”

Other proponent testimony included the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, Autism Society of Ohio and Ohio Provider Resource Association. The bill had its second committee hearing in homeland security and is awaiting its third hearing in late February.

Lorenz was appointed to the Ohio House 60th District seat in May 2023, to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Kris Jordan, following Jordan’s unexpected death. Lorenz previously was a member of Powell City Council since 2010, and served as mayor of Powell for 2016-17.

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