In July, the state of Ohio passed a new budget, and with it signed new language into the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to include Team Rubicon as a state-recognized disaster relief organization. The change came about because of the work of Greyshirt Anthony Cable, an Ohio-based police officer.
Last year, Cable served in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence on his first TR deployment. Upon returning to Ohio, he put in for disaster relief paid time off. “We are granted disaster leave through our contract in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code,” Cable explains. “At that time, the ORC stated that only members of the American Red Cross were eligible to receive up to 30 days of paid time off a year for disaster leave services.”
Because the Red Cross was the only codified disaster relief agency—it was incorporated into the ORC in the 1970s, long before TR’s founding—Cable’s agency was able to deny his leave request. Cable reached out to two other Ohio Greyshirts, Thomas Beers, an EMS manager for the Cleveland Clinic, and Adam Ingram, an emergency management planner for Franklin County, to see if they knew of any other state with similar laws, or had heard of TR dealing with similar situations in the past. While such exclusions were news to them, they all agreed the only solution was to get the law changed.
Next, Cable reached out to a family friend, Ohio Speaker of the House, Larry Householder. Together, they drafted a modification to the ORC, which was approved with the Ohio budget in May, to state:
“A state employee who is a certified disaster service volunteer of the American Red Cross or who is a verified Team Rubicon volunteer may be granted leave from work with pay for not to exceed thirty work days in each year to participate in specialized disaster relief services for the American Red Cross, upon the request of the American Red Cross or of Team Rubicon for the services of that employee and upon the approval of that employee’s appointing authority. The appointing authority shall compensate an employee granted leave under this section at the employee’s regular rate of pay for those regular work hours during which the employee is absent from work.”
Ohio attorney—and Greyshirt—Jim Manken, Chief Legal Counsel at Ohio Inspector General, called the changes “wonderful news.”
The updated version of the ORC takes effect on October 17, 2019, and Cable believes that the passing of the law will open doors for hundreds, “if not thousands,” of state employees to become TR volunteers. It could also allow current Greyshirts employed by the state of Ohio to deploy more often.