Legislative Update
Prepared by: David Field
Report created on December 20, 2015
 
HB34HEALTH CARE COMPACT (RETHERFORD W) To enter into the Health Care Compact.
 Current Status:   12/9/2015 - Senate Government Oversight and Reform, (First Hearing)
 
HB64OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.
 Current Status:   6/30/2015 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; Eff. 7/1/15
 
HB65TAX-EXPENDITURE APPRAISAL (DRIEHAUS D) To provide for the periodic appraisal of the effectiveness of tax expenditures.
 Current Status:   3/24/2015 - House Ways and Means, (First Hearing)
 
HB259CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE (RYAN S) To regulate certificates of insurance prepared or issued to verify the purchase of property or casualty insurance coverage.
 Current Status:   12/9/2015 - Consideration of Senate Amendments; House Does Concur, Vote 92-0
 
HB326TAX LAW-JOINT FILING (AMSTUTZ R, MCCLAIN J) To make technical changes to the state income tax law, to modify the requirements for receiving the joint filing credit, and to provide that, for the 2015 taxable year, any taxable business income under $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately or $250,000 for other taxpayers is subject to the graduated tax rates applicable to nonbusiness income, while business income in excess of those amounts remains subject to the existing 3% flat tax.
 Current Status:   10/26/2015 - House Ways and Means, (Fifth Hearing)
 
HB368HEALTH INSURANCE LIMITS-EXCLUSIONS (SEARS B) To make changes to the health coverage benefit limits and coverage exclusions for life and health insurance guaranty associations.
 Current Status:   11/4/2015 - House Insurance, (First Hearing)
 
HB416JOINT SELF-INSURANCE POOLS (SCHURING K) To enable state colleges and universities to establish joint self-insurance pools.
 Current Status:   12/14/2015 - Introduced
 
SB64CREDIT HISTORY-INSURANCE PREMIUM (TAVARES C) To prohibit an insurer's use of a credit score, credit history, or credit report in fixing a premium rate for, or the terms and conditions of, an insurance policy, or in determining whether to issue, continue, or renew an insurance policy.
 Current Status:   6/16/2015 - Senate Insurance, (First Hearing)
 
SB68CONTRACEPTION INSURANCE (TAVARES C) To require health insurers to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and to prohibit employment discrimination under the Ohio Civil Rights Law on the basis of reproductive health decisions.
 Current Status:   3/24/2015 - Senate Insurance, (First Hearing)
 
SB115CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE (BACON K, BEAGLE B) To regulate certificates of insurance prepared or issued as evidence of property or casualty insurance coverage.
 Current Status:   6/16/2015 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED & REPORTED OUT, Senate Insurance, (Third Hearing)
 

Week in Review
Friday, December 18, 2015

ABORTION

 

On Friday, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that his office has concluded its investigation into the alleged sale of tissue by Planned Parenthood affiliates, finding no indication that fetal tissue was sold by the organization’s state affiliates. However, the investigation did reveal, he said, that aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood facilities are ultimately disposed of in landfill sites -- a charge Planned Parenthood denied, calling the accusations “inflammatory and false.”

 

Late Monday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus granted Planned Parenthood the temporary restraining order (TRO) it sought in a suit filed over the weekend, heading off action DeWine vowed to take Friday. The TRO is for 28 days, with a hearing set by Sargus for early January.

 

Also on Monday, four Republican representatives unveiled plans for two bills to deal with what they called the "horrific" revelations regarding aborted fetus disposal. The first bill from Reps. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) and Tim Ginter (R-Salem) will require the Ohio Department of Health to write rules for the disposal of fetuses, mandating either burial or cremation. As Sears explained, this will bring some specificity to current rules which require only the disposal in a "humane manner."

 

The second bill, which Reps. Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) said they had already been working on, will require the woman seeking the abortion to determine how the fetus should be disposed of, providing the clinic written notice of that decision. They said Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) has the companion bill in the Senate which was introduced on Monday. It is SB254.

 

AGRICULTURE

 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) rescinded its order prohibiting bird exhibitions in Ohio on Thursday, noting there is no immediate threat of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak.

 

ARTS

 

Gov. John R. Kasich Thursday named Dr. Amit Majmudar of Dublin, OH as Ohio's first poet laureate. As a poet, Majmudar has taken a nontraditional path. He is a medical doctor and serves as a diagnostic and nuclear radiologist in Columbus. During his two-year term, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, Majmudar said he intends to bring an interdisciplinary approach to promoting poetry by establishing a link with the existing, thriving Ohio arts community. Another important component of his outreach will be engaging Ohio high school students through a variety of means to encourage the future of poetry in Ohio.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

Attorney General Mike DeWine took time out from the unveiling of the state's first annual Ohio Economic Development Manual Tuesday to address the emerging lawsuit over his finding that aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood are being dumped in landfills contrary to state rule requiring them to be handled in a "humane manner." The press conference had been called originally for the purpose of announcing the new manual, a "one-stop-guide" to Ohio laws, tax systems, funding sources and agencies impacting commercial enterprise throughout the state, with an audience focus on businesses, elected officials and development professionals. Reporters turned to the controversy over Planned Parenthood, whose temporary injunction against state action drew a favorable ruling in federal court Monday. Initial proceedings are scheduled for early January. "Our lawyers are beginning today to prepare for that hearing," announced DeWine, who could not discuss the lawsuit further.

 

While movie director Quentin Tarantino fumes over the preemption of The Hateful Eight's Los Angeles premier by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is accusing AMC, Cinemark and Regal of colluding with large studios to extort exclusive screening rights over smaller theaters and filmmakers.

 

BALLOT ISSUES

The group behind Issue 3, a proposal that would have legalized marijuana for personal and medical use but restricted growing sites to 10 pre-specified locations owned by the investors of the campaign, spent nearly $6.3 million in the final days of the campaign in what would ultimately be a losing effort. ResponsibleOhio spent more than $20 million on the Issue 3 campaign.

 

CORRECTIONS

 

Toledo Correctional Institution (ToCI) has made "tremendous progress" since a sobering report in 2013, when the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) described a violent, overcrowded prison with high staff turnover and active drug trafficking, the agency says in its latest inspection. Since then, the high-security facility has gotten a new warden, more security staff and fewer prisoners, significantly reducing the inmate-to-guard ratio.

 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

JobsOhio President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor says the nonprofit agency will build on its robust financing and growing regional partnerships in 2016 with a new workforce initiative and redevelopment program for sites with promising job potential. Minor told his Board of Directors that those plans are taking shape in the final days of 2015. "Our focus will include the acceleration of redeveloping sites that we believe can support job opportunities for Ohioans. We will also build a workforce team to focus on workforce issues important to companies here as well as companies outside Ohio looking to invest here," he said. He also expanded on the new ad campaign unveiled by his director of marketing and communications, Scott Hanley.

 

Calendar Year 2015 will end with the Kasich administration having awarded an estimated $100 million in publicly-funded tax credits to private business interests, which in turn have promised to invest more than $1.5 billion; create an estimated 15,511 new positions; and keep another 16,577 existing jobs in Ohio.

 

The Third Frontier Program announced plans Thursday to increase funding outcomes by 50 percent in 2016, when the commission will have $31 million to spend on high-tech development in Ohio. It finished the year in the black by awarding all remaining funds from the $70 million targeted for 2015.

 

ECONOMY

 

A new report released by the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions and the Fraser Institute of Canada ranked Ohio only 40th out of 50 states for "economic freedom," saying the state is being held back by high government spending on public employee pensions, workers' compensation and social programs.

 

EDUCATION

 

The first round of the Straight A Fund for this biennium drew 140 applications, a smaller field to correspond to the smaller pool of money available than in the past two years. Schools and educational organizations can apply on their own or as part of a consortium, and the 140 applications represent more than 300 organizations requesting more than $100 million. Lawmakers appropriated $15 million for each fiscal year of the program in HB64 (R. Smith), versus $250 million available in FY14-15.

 

The State Board of Education (SBOE) Accountability Committee Monday debated how tough the state should be on schools and districts when scoring them on how they prepare students for college and careers. Committee members generally agreed that the "Prepared for Success" (PFS) grading scale should have rising benchmarks over time, but members disagreed on where the baseline should be set for receiving a "C" or "D" grade. The PFS component, created in 129-HB555 (Stebelton-Butler), will be graded for the first time on the 2016 report card. It takes into account students being remediation-free on the ACT/SAT, earning an industry credential or earning an honors diploma.

 

The Straight A Fund Governing Board Monday approved a cadre of grant advisors consisting of six returning and 17 new advisors for the FY16 review. In addition, the schedule for the review of the FY16 applications was laid out. The board is due to reconvene on Monday, Jan. 25 with the department planning is to take the recommendations to the Controlling Board on Monday, Feb. 22.

 

The State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 17-0 Tuesday to elect Lonny Rivera as Ohio's interim superintendent of public instruction. Rivera, currently associate superintendent at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), will officially replace the retiring Richard Ross on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Rivera was the only person nominated to take the job.

 

Chris Woolard, accountability chief for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), led an update Tuesday to the State Board of Education on a comprehensive evaluation system for charter school sponsors and the recommendations of a three-person panel that met from August to December.

 

Members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) were told Tuesday they should "get used to the acronym 'ESSA.'" Jeremy Marks, Ohio Department of Education (ODE) director of federal programs, offered the SBOE Legislative and Budget Committee an outline of key provisions included in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week.

 

The State Board of Education Wednesday announced its meeting dates for 2016 through July. All dates are Mondays and Tuesdays. They include the following: Jan. 11-12, 2016; Feb. 8-9, 2016; March 14-15, 2016; April 11-12, 2016; May 9-10, 2016; June 13-14, 2016; and July 11-12, 2016.

 

Five Ohio public school districts and consortia have been awarded grants to allow students to take advantage of opportunities to learn on individualized paths at their own place, time and pace, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Wednesday.

 

In the weekly emailed missive from the Ohio Department of Education, "EdConnection," retiring Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross wrote a farewell letter to educators around the state Thursday. "As 2015 draws to a close, I'm reflecting with gratitude on what our state public education system has accomplished for the boys and girls of Ohio this year. That sense of satisfaction grows when I think of what we've achieved in the almost three years that I've led this system. I consider it a privilege to have had this opportunity to serve," Ross wrote.

 

ELECTIONS

 

The ACLU of Ohio and Demos Thursday sent a letter to Secretary of State Jon Husted threatening a lawsuit if the state does not stop removing voters from its voter registration rolls for not voting. The groups, acting on behalf of the Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute, said Ohio is violating federal law by using failure to vote as a reason to remove voters from its rolls.

 

ELECTIONS 2016

 

Wednesday's filling deadline led to a few surprises, including Reps. Mike Curtin (D-Columbus) and Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) not running for re-election and Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) moving forward with a re-election bid despite not having the backing of his county party. Other expected moves included the filing of former House Speaker Larry Householder for his old seat, which could give House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) two former legislative leaders in his caucus next General Assembly along with Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), who filed to succeed Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville).

 

A proponent of heartbeat bill HB69 (Hagan-Hood) who has challenged Republican senators over their refusal to pass the legislation was among those filing late to run for the General Assembly next year. Janet Porter, who serves as president of Faith2Action, filed as a Republican in the 22nd Senate District. She will likely face incumbent Sen. Larry Obhof (R-Medina) in the Republican primary in March.

 

Rep. Christie Bryant Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) is not running for re-election in 2016. Kuhns told supporters earlier this month that she has accepted a job at University of Cincinnati Health leading strategic community relations, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. She plans to finish her term in the Ohio House, but is not seeking re-election.

 

Franklin City Councilman Scott Lipps has announced a run for the 62nd Ohio House District, with the seat’s current occupant, Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon), serving as the treasurer for his campaign.

 

Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) is among those who have pulled petitions to run for Franklin County commissioner in 2016. The seat is currently held by Democrat Paula Brooks, who is expected to run for re-election.

 

Endorsements made over the week include the following:

- The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus endorsed Vern Sykes for the 28th Ohio Senate District. The caucus also endorsed Reps. Michael Ashford (Toledo), Janine Boyd (Cleveland), Kevin Boyce (Columbus), Herschel Craig (Columbus), Stephanie Howse (Cleveland), Alicia Reece (Cincinnati), Fred Strahorn (Dayton) and Emilia Sykes (Akron) for re-election.

 

ENERGY

 

The state's freeze of its energy-efficiency standards reduced electric utility home-weatherization efforts for low-income households by 26 percent, according to a new report from Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) and NextGen Climate America (NGCA). Weatherization services reduce need for struggling families to seek utility payment assistance plans, reduce costs of ratepayer-funded assistance programs and create job opportunities in Ohio's energy economy, says the study, "Weatherization Works."

 

FEDERAL

 

Ohio's U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) have praised numerous priority projects for their home state that were included in the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill on which congressional Democrats and Republicans struck a deal late Tuesday.

 

Reviewing federal legislation action, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told Ohio reporters Friday he's pleased with the inclusion of his own provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) focusing on students' career readiness and ability to earn college credits in high school, along with drug addiction recovery. Portman's amendments that he co-authored with several Senate Democrats include a career readiness piece that bolsters school counseling programs and has states keep track of their school districts' career readiness factors.

 

GAMING

 

The Ohio Casino Control Commission on Wednesday approved Rock Ohio Caesars LLC's refinancing proposal under certain conditions, deeming it "commercially reasonable." Jessica Franks, commission spokesperson, said the move is the "next step" in the transition as Rock Gaming LLC takes over management of the Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati as well as Thistledown Racino.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) released the tentative legislative schedule for the first six months of 2016 on Thursday. Sessions begin in both chambers on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and tentatively wrap-up with "if needed" sessions on Wednesday, June 15.

 

Controlling Board requests scheduled Monday ran the gamut from teeth whitening to low-income housing to increased security at the Governor's Residence. The latter proposal was a fraction of the $136 million which the Development Services Agency (DSA) and Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) want to spend on 1,100 rental units -- a per-unit cost President Pro Tem Chris Widener (R-Springfield) said was higher than new hotels.

 

The Sunset Review Committee Monday voted to abolish 13 committees created in statute that Chairman Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) said had completed their mission and therefore are no longer needed. The committees on the chopping block because their work is done are the Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force; Direct Care Worker Advisory Workgroup; Ohio Legislative Commission on the Education and Preservation of State History; Foreign Language Advisory Council; Governor's Policy Information Working Group; Legislative Task Force to Study Anaerobic Digesters for Agricultural Use and Application in the State; Ohio Housing Study Committee; Ohio Military Reserve Homeland Security Study Commission; Privacy/Public Record Access Study Committee; Public-Private Collaborative Commission Select Committee on Telecommunications Regulatory Reform; Service Coordination Workgroup; and the Committee to Evaluate the Implementation of TANF Youth Diversion Programs.

 

In Rep. Mike Duffey's (R-Worthington) last meeting as chairman of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), all agenda items cleared the panel without public comment or discussion. Duffey said Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland), current vice chair, would lead the committee in 2016, while he becomes the vice chair in the new year. The chairmanship switches each year between the Ohio House of Representatives and the Senate, with a senator chairing the committee in even-numbered years.

 

GOVERNOR

 

The governor made the following appointments during the week:

 

- Marilyn A. Eisele of Shaker Heights (Cuyahoga County) to the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning Dec. 14, 2015, and ending May 17, 2023.

- Tonya L. Rider of Sylvania (Lucas County) to the Owens State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Dec. 14, 2015, and ending Sept. 21, 2018.

- Michael P. McAlear of Perrysburg (Wood County) to the Owens State Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Dec. 14, 2015, and ending Sept. 21, 2020.

- Tamara A. Daulton of Batavia (Clermont County) reappointed to the State Board of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics for a term beginning Dec. 14, 2015, and ending Dec. 6, 2018.

- Diana Starkey of Findlay (Hancock County) to the Children's Trust Fund Board for a term beginning Dec. 16, 2015 and ending July 2, 2016.

- Carol L. Garner of Mt. Vernon (Knox County) to the Board of Trustees of the Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Library Association for a term beginning Dec. 17, 2015 and ending Sept. 15, 2018.

 

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

 

The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) offered lawmakers another update on its behavioral health redesign plan on Thursday, focusing on its draft rates recently handed out to health care providers. ODM Director John McCarthy stressed to members of the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) that these draft rates are just a starting point. Lawmakers voiced concerns that rates could be cut, reducing access to services.

 

An Infant Mortality Commission subcommittee on social determinants centered its meeting Thursday on how state agencies must work together to bring issues such as access to housing and transportation into the discussion of infant mortality. Members said finding solutions doesn't just lie on the back of the health care system.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Cincinnati State announced Tuesday that it has signed an agreement with Pearson Education to lead the college's efforts in marketing, recruiting, admission, and retention through spring semester, 2026.

 

Students from 12 different Ohio universities are looking for business hosts as part of the Ohio Export Internship Program, the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) announced Thursday. Companies interested in global growth are eligible for 50 percent reimbursement of intern wages.

 

JUDICIAL

 

A Cuyahoga County juvenile court was wrong to hold a county social worker and assistant county prosecutor in contempt for failing to remove a child from a home in a manner that is not allowed by law, an Ohio appeals court ruled recently.


PENSION FUNDS

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) announced Thursday that its Board of Trustees received a resolution Wednesday acknowledging the system's providing the treasurer's office "the data necessary for the treasurer to include OPERS in his online checkbook project."

 

PEOPLE

 

The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) Board of Directors announced that John D. Barker will join the association as president and chief executive officer (CEO), effective Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.

 

POVERTY

 

Two reports from the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA), in conjunction with the University of Washington's School of Social Work, were released Tuesday and are meant to help Ohioans chart a "realistic" course out of poverty -- and then stay there.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

 

Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday that 7,231 new entities filed to do business in Ohio during November 2015. This is 865 more businesses than filed during November 2014 when 6,366 entities were formed.

 

Secretary of State Jon Husted said Thursday that nearly 80,000 provisional ballots were cast in the 2015 general election, and 12,208 were rejected for an 84.63 percent count rate.

 

TAXATION

 

JobsOhio President and CEO John Minor told the Ohio 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission that companies looking to locate in Ohio consider the corporate tax structure, although the type of taxes a state has is not as important. Minor said that a state's corporate tax is an indicator of how business friendly a state is. He said the Commercial Activities Tax (CAT) is a very competitive tax due to its low rate and exemptions on products sold outside of Ohio. When it comes to luring companies, Minor said it is all about being competitive with other states. At the request of Commission Chair Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabine), Minor also addressed an increase in the severance tax, saying the biggest driver to development in that industry tends to be commodity prices, and in his opinion a modest increase would not hurt Ohio's competitive advantage. He noted there are other taxes that could benefit from oil and gas industry growth such as sales taxes on new equipment.

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

The Joint Legislative Task Force on Department of Transportation Issues released its report, recommending the state should do the following: maintain the current 70 miles per hour speed limit; retain the two license plate requirement; and pursue limited driving privilege licenses in stand-alone legislation.

 

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission approved its preliminary capital budget requests during a meeting Monday. The proposal has a recommended preliminary list of 2016 capital projects totaling nearly $134 million, and nearly $10 million in uncommitted funds, which may be used for currently unidentified capital projects that may be needed in 2016. The commission said it was the largest capital budget in 15 years. It includes resources for numerous roadway improvements, such as base pavement replacement, bridge rehabilitation and repairs and resurfacing.

 

UTILITIES

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff followed this month's precedent-setting recommendation for a FirstEnergy power purchase agreement (PPA) with Tuesday's second commission proposal to reregulate aging power plants struggling to compete in a generation market deregulated by the General Assembly. Staff signed off on a settlement of American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio's PPA, which the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and AARP say would cost consumers $2 billion more than market prices.

 

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

 

One of the lesser known facts about the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is its regulatory power over commercial transportation, an arcane facet of state government that put Robert Aleshire on a collision course with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). He pleaded guilty in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to fifth-degree felony theft for working while receiving benefits.

 


This information compiled by:
David W. Field, CAE

href="mailto:field@assnoffices.com">mailto:field@assnoffices.com

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