I have dedicated the past 16 years to serving Ohioans in the Statehouse, and I can remember each piece of legislation I have introduced on behalf of a constituent and an issue he or she was experiencing. Earlier this month was the 10 year anniversary of the signing of one of the most impactful bills with which I have been involved.
In 2007, when I was serving in the Ohio Senate, my office received a call from a grieving mother. Her son had been killed in a car accident, but she wasn’t contacted about the incident until after he had passed. Law enforcement had no way to find out who his next of kin was or how to contact them. Because of this, his mother was unable to be with him in the hospital immediately after the accident, and she learned about his death from a phone call by the chaplain.
It was clear from her call that she had been unable to properly grieve the death of her only child because she wasn’t with him as he passed. In order to rectify this issue, I introduced legislation that would create a next of kin database to be established by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Senate Bill 249 — and House Bill 392, the companion bill that was ultimately signed by the Governor — allows people who are issued a driver’s license, commercial license, temporary permit, or state ID card to list the name, address, and telephone number of an emergency contact to be included in this database. Thus, if a person is involved in an accident or emergency situation and can’t communicate with emergency personnel, his or her next of kin can be contacted.
Now known as the Money-Burge Act in honor of two individuals killed in automobile accidents, including this constituent’s son, since the law became effective, more than 1.1 million Ohioans have signed up. Their licenses now display “Next of Kin,” and their families can rest a little easier and have peace of mind should an accident occur.
The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.