House OKs bill aimed at addressing public defender shortage

Ohio's legislature sends heartbeat bill to governor in surprise vote
Posted at 2:17 PM, Jun 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-22 14:17:17-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio House has approved a bill that would create a student loan repayment program to help recruit and retain attorneys to serve as much needed public defenders in the state.

The bipartisan legislation was approved this week by a 91-2 vote. The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Brett Hillyer, of Uhrichsville, and Democratic Rep. David Leland, of Columbus.

Leland says the program would give lawyers who become public defenders tuition loan assistance of up to $85,000 for five years of service. The average law student in Ohio graduates with more than $98,000 of debt.

The proposed program is similar to those in Ohio aimed at encouraging physicians, dentists and dental hygienists to practice in underserved areas.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.