Following the lead of a Senator from his home state, state Rep. Thomas West, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives introduced a bill yesterday that would prohibit debt collection in The Buckeye State.
The bill, according to a press release from Rep. West, is modeled after legislation that was introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-Ohio] in the Senate and would prohibit the collection of debt until after the state of emergency that was declared by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine expires.
“During this unprecedented crisis, Ohio families and small businesses should not have to worry about the looming threat of debts and associated fees that they simply cannot afford to pay at this time,” said Rep. West, in a statement. “We must give hardworking Ohioans a chance to recover and rebuild from the devastating effects of this outbreak.”
A copy of the bill was not immediately available through the Ohio legislature’s website. The release from Rep. West said that along with prohibiting collecting debts, these other actions would also be barred:
- “harassing” phone calls
- disconnecting utilities
- charging “higher” interest or adding fees
- initiating lawsuits to collect on unpaid debts
The bill was featured in a published report that took issue with the fact that collection agencies are still allowed to be open in Ohio “as thousands of other businesses across the state remain closed under a state health department order.”
The report was critical of the fact that collection agencies were still allowed to be open and that “the business of debt collection will continue even as many consumers are facing an unsure and frightening financial future.”