Bipartisan SB 37 addresses nightmarish Catch-22 of debt-driven license suspensions

By Joi Carter and Jill Rizika
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Ohio employers and workers could receive an early holiday present through Senate Bill 37, which would slash the number of driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay fees and fines.

Enacting SB 37 will help end what The Plain Dealer editorial board labeled the “nightmarish” system preventing Ohioans from getting to work, applying for jobs, and caring for their families (”Bill reforming rules of license suspensions is welcome bipartisanship,” Dec. 3) The problem is vast: in 2020, there were over one million debt-related license suspensions.

In Neighborhood Connections-served ZIP code 44104, 53% live below the poverty line, and access to grocery stores is limited. Imagine not having a license when you need groceries, diapers, or medicine. Our 44104 neighbors don’t have to imagine this: There are as many license suspensions as driving-age residents.

Opportunities that skill-building and career-coaching provided by Towards Employment offer are not fully realized if trainees can’t get to a job interview, let alone their job. You cannot pay your fines when you can’t drive to work, truly a Catch-22.

Pass SB 37 so Ohioans who drive safely can get back on the road and back to work.

Joi Carter and Jill Rizika,


Joi Carter is network manager of integration and organizing for Neighborhood Connections. Jill Rizika is president and CEO of Towards Employment.