It is logical that the law cannot be followed unless those affected by the law are aware of the law or can become aware of the law. Consistent with this principle, the Constitution requires laws to be “promulgated” before they can be enforced. “Published” means “announced or declared” usually by written publication.
When someone wants to know if a particular action or omission was legal, that person can often use Internet search engines such as Google to try to determine if there are laws affecting the expected action.
Sometimes those searching for laws online can be blessed with a few articles from a lawyer or aggrieved people’s group trying to explain the law in “layman’s” terms. In fact, this column is designed to help with that task each week.
To try to meet the constitutional requirements that laws be communicated to people who may be affected by them and to enable people to educate themselves about applicable laws, certain steps are required for most laws before they can go into effect.
At the state level, a law passed by the Ohio General Assembly does not go into effect until 90 days after the governor signs the law or after the governor’s 10-day deadline to sign the law has expired. These laws are usually published in the Revised Ohio Statute, which is available online.
State government agencies (such as the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Insurance) can make laws, too. These laws are called regulations and generally cannot conflict with laws passed by the General Assembly. Ohio’s regulations are published in the Ohio Administrative Code, which is available online.
For municipalities, the default is that for each new law (called ordinances or resolutions) to take effect, the legislature (the assembly) of that municipality must bring the law up for discussion three separate times, each time requiring a majority vote of “yes”. in his favour. The law that will be considered next time. After a third majority vote of “yes”, the law becomes effective after only 30 days.
Local municipalities (cities and villages) are also required to “publish” their decrees and decisions. The challenge is that the only traditional way for these communities to “publish” is to pay for an advertisement in the local newspaper. This is problematic, because many communities are no longer served by a newspaper, and in other circumstances the cost of advertising a few-sentence summary of a new law could cost hundreds of dollars.
Fortunately, the Ohio General Assembly changed Ohio law last month to allow municipalities to have options for publicizing the law beyond local newspaper ads. Now, municipalities can also alternatively publish new ordinances and regulations on a statewide website or on the municipality’s website and social media account.
These deliberate steps and delays before the laws become effective are designed to allow people affected by the laws to become familiar with the laws and their requirements.
However, with countless laws that are or could be applicable, sometimes the only way to confidently identify all applicable laws is to hire an attorney.
The Business Today section can be found at the end of Section A in the online edition of Saturday’s Lima News.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio attorney with Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. His practice is limited to business, real estate, estate planning, and agricultural issues in Northwest Ohio. It can be accessed at (email protected) Or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based on the specific facts and circumstances you face.