Small Business Legislative Report
132nd General Assembly

This legislative report is intended to keep section members up to date on legislation pending before the Ohio General Assembly.
Prepared by: Government Affairs Staff
Report created on October 21, 2017
 
HB49OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) Creates FY 2018-2019 main operating budget.
 Current Status:   8/22/2017 - Consideration of Governor's Veto
 
HB75PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE-ARMED FORCES (GAVARONE T, MERRIN D) To establish an expedited process to grant a professional license to an individual who is on active duty as a member of the armed forces of the United States, or is the spouse of such an individual, and holds a valid license in another state.
 Current Status:   3/15/2017 - House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, (Second Hearing)
 
HB78ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES (RETHERFORD W) To revise the laws governing the provision of adult protective services.
 Current Status:   3/9/2017 - House Aging and Long Term Care, (First Hearing)
 
HB138PAY DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS (SMITH K, BOYD J) To require the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to establish a system for individuals to make anonymous complaints regarding employers discriminating in the payment of wages.
 Current Status:   3/29/2017 - Referred to Committee House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor
 
HB158UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION-MILITARY TRANSFERS (PERALES R, CRAIG H) To permit persons who quit work to accompany the person's spouse on a military transfer to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.
 Current Status:   6/28/2017 - Referred to Committee Senate Finance
 
HB263OUTDOOR DINING-DOGS (LANESE L) To generally allow an owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog to take the dog in an outdoor dining area of a retail food establishment or food service operation.
 Current Status:   10/24/2017 - House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor, (Third Hearing)
 
HB268WORKERS COMPENSATION-SELF-INSURERS (HENNE M) To make changes to the Workers' Compensation Law with respect to self-insuring employers.
 Current Status:   10/11/2017 - SUBSTITUTE BILL ACCEPTED, House Insurance, (Second Hearing)
 
SB3WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (BEAGLE B, BALDERSON T) To revise the laws governing the state's workforce development system, programs that may be offered by primary and secondary schools, certificates of qualification for employment, and the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency, and to designate the first week of May as In-Demand Jobs Week.
 Current Status:   10/11/2017 - REPORTED OUT AS AMENDED, House Higher Education and Workforce Development, (Fifth Hearing)
 
SB38RAISE MINIMUM WAGE (YUKO K) To raise the minimum wage; to eliminate the prohibition against political subdivisions establishing a different minimum wage; to raise the salary threshold above which certain employees are exempt from the overtime law; and to create a uniform standard to determine whether an individual performing services for an employer is an employee of that employer.
 Current Status:   2/7/2017 - Introduced
 
SB131EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION-TAX CREDITS (DOLAN M) To provide that compensation paid to certain home-based employees may be counted for purposes of an employer qualifying for and complying with the terms of a Job Creation Tax Credit.
 Current Status:   6/6/2017 - Referred to Committee House Ways and Means
 
SB140PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP GRANTS (SCHIAVONI J) To create the Public-Private Partnership Grant Program for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to develop, enhance, and promote educational programs to address regional workforce needs; to create the Sector Partnership Grant Program for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to identify and provide grants to industry partnerships; to support programs that improve access to workforce training opportunities for students; to support economic development and revitalization programs; and to make an appropriation.
 Current Status:   5/3/2017 - Referred to Committee Senate Finance
 
SB147OHIO RURAL JOBS ACT (HITE C) To enact the "Ohio Rural Jobs Act" which authorizes a nonrefundable tax credit for insurance companies that invest in rural business growth funds, which are certified to provide capital to rural and agricultural businesses.
 Current Status:   9/27/2017 - Senate Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)
 
Week in Review

Week in Review

 

Friday, Oct.  20, 2017

 

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 

The House Speaker's Task Force on Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety (H.O.P.E.S.) made a stop in Columbus on Tuesday to invite input from professionals at Ohio State University (OSU), Franklin County and the greater Columbus community. This was the sixth roundtable held by the roving group, which has recently visited Wright State University near Dayton, Summa Health in Akron and the Center for Addiction Treatment in Cincinnati. Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) who chairs the task force, conducted the meeting informally, asking for personal and professional experiences regarding the state's opioid abuse and overdose epidemic.

 

Ohio Third Frontier hit its launch date Wednesday for the $8 million Opioid Technology Challenge, the second piece of technology drug funding introduced in Gov. John Kasich's 2017 "State of the State" speech. As the state moves toward final awards for existing opioid applications, the challenge program is now accepting proposals for new technologies in the treatment of opioid addiction.

 

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

 

Late on Thursday, Oct. 12, President Donald Trump continued his dismantling of Obamacare, announcing that the federal government would immediately halt its payments for cost-sharing reductions (CSR) -- payments to health insurers to assist them in offering health insurance policies to Americans seeking coverage on the Healthcare Marketplace. This came on the heels of his executive order altering other insurance protections enacted under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- Obamacare -- that this administration says will improve access and lower costs but which others maintain will destabilize the health insurance market and jeopardize coverage for millions nationwide.

 

AGRICULTURE

 

The next round of harmful algal bloom (HAB) reduction funding is now available through the federal Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced Monday. The funding is part of a five-year, $17.5 million program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday that he is awarding $85.5 million to 367 crime victim service providers across Ohio as part of the "Ohio Attorney General's Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative." Of the $85.5 million in grants, an estimated $28 million will go toward providing services to domestic violence victims, approximately $25 million will go toward serving victims of sexual assault, and more than $16 million will go toward services for abused children. Additional funds will assist agencies that provide services to at-risk youth, victims with disabilities and other victims who traditionally have not accessed victim services.

 

BALLOT ISSUES

 

Three weeks out from Election Day with early voting already underway, Matt Borges, senior campaign advisor for the Yes on Issue 2 campaign, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that their polling shows their campaign remains very much in the race despite "an onslaught of dishonest advertising" for which the opposition "should be ashamed." He added that, "This is a race." He doesn't expect either side to pull any punches. "This will be a fight to the finish." Specifically, he said their polling, when voters were forced to answer whether they will vote "yes" or "no," shows 51 percent voting yes and 49 percent voting no.

 

CORRECTIONS

 

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) employees are passionate about reducing recidivism by providing inmates access to education and jobs, department officials told the Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC) on Wednesday. Jessica Dennis, DRC deputy director of programming, development and evaluation, said the department provides access to literacy courses, pre-GED courses, GED courses, college courses, career technical education and apprenticeships. She said offering these programs not only improves inmate conduct in prison, but reduces recidivism by preparing released offenders to attain and keep employment.

 

EDUCATION

 

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) plans to re-release state report cards for career-technical districts later this month after finding a "systemic data compilation error." The error excluded "a small number of students" from calculations for the Graduation Rate, Prepared for Success and Nontraditional Participation measures, according to department spokesperson Brittany Halpin.

 

"Know Your Charter," a project of think tank Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Education Association, released its latest report. The groups, which are often critical of Ohio charter schools' performance and the state's method of funding them, highlight in the report the total funding deducted from district schools to send to charters, as well as the proportion of that funding that flowed from a district to worse-performing charter schools.

 

New state data show about three quarters of the class of 2018 appeared on track to graduate as of the end of their junior year, an improvement from a year ago. Members of the class of 2019, meanwhile, appear to be performing similarly to their predecessors, according to data from the end of their sophomore year. The State Board of Education's Achievement and Graduation Requirements Committee took a look at the progress of the two classes Tuesday, following up on statistics from last fall that led some educators to sound alarm bells and prompted lawmakers to add new graduation options for the class of 2018. The data presented Tuesday showing the two classes performing similarly prompted some board members to urge consideration of more options for 2019 as well.

 

The Ohio State Board of Education's Educators and Student Options Committee reviewed the results of the state's teacher licensure assessments. The overall results of the assessments were not made public, but the board was told results remained largely flat and unchanged.

 

ELECTIONS 2017

 

Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday that an estimated 145,555 absentee ballots have been requested statewide, as of Friday, Oct. 13 -- nearly three weeks ahead of the Nov. 7 General Election. Of the 144,555 ballots requested, 11,125 have been cast by mail and in-person. Among military and overseas voters, 931 have requested an absentee ballot, and 118 of those have been cast.

 

ELECTIONS 2018

 

Ohio voters will not see J.D. Vance on a ballot in 2018, the Hillbilly Elegy author told Hannah News on Friday. "I'm on a campaign for entrepreneurship, not political office," Vance said in between stops on his "Rise of the Rest" bus tour with colleague Steve Case, known for co-founding America Online.

 

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) announced Monday that she will be exiting the secretary of state's race, clearing the way for Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) to secure the Republican nomination.

 

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo said Tuesday that he is ending his campaign for treasurer. In a letter to supporters, Mingo said that "time and resources will not allow the momentum needed to continue this movement forward successfully." Mingo said he will instead run for re-election to the county auditor's office, and backed Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) for the nomination.

 

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor outlined plans Monday to create a more business-friendly state government structure which she said will build upon the principles of the Common Sense Initiative (CSI). Taylor said the new structure will create a comprehensive and coordinated strategy among business-facing agencies such as the departments of taxation, environmental protection, workers' compensation, transportation and commerce.

 

Dayton Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley made an appearance in Xenia on Wednesday to reiterate her stance against drug distribution companies that she said fueled the ongoing opioid abuse and overdose epidemic. Whaley said that, as governor, she would implement a nickel per dose surcharge that opioid manufacturers would pay. She said that such a policy could generate as much as $31.5 million to fight the epidemic each year.

 

Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) announced she will run for the Ohio Senate in 2018, seeking to replace Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Columbus), who is term-limited. Gonzales is currently serving in her final term in the Ohio House. She cannot seek another term in the House due to term limits.

 

Michael Canty will run for the 6th House District seat in 2018, the Cleveland businessman told other members of the Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC) on Wednesday. The Alloy Bellows and Precision Welding Inc. president and CEO is seeking to replace fellow Republican Rep. Marlene Anielski (Walton Hills), who is term-limited.

 

- Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) said Thursday that he is planning to run for the 19th Ohio Senate District in 2018 and is not interested in running for Congress. The Senate seat is currently held by Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell), who is term limited. Brenner said he has been asked about running for Congress in the wake of U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi's announcement that he is leaving next year, but said he has already told the Delaware County Republican Central Committee his Senate intentions.

 

The following endorsements were made over the week:

 

- U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) endorsed Kathleen Clyde for secretary of state.

- Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery endorsed Frank LaRose for secretary of state.

- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio announced opposition to Issue 1, the crime victims' amendment also known as Marsy's Law, saying the issue "threatens the fundamental rights of the accused in the criminal justice system."

- The Ohio AFL-CIO endorsed Sherrod Brown for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

- The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association endorsed Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate.

 

ENERGY

 

A group of stakeholders led by the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA) issued a lengthy polemic Thursday against cost-recovery legislation for coal-fired generation plants operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC). Companion bills SB155 (Terhar-Peterson) and HB239 (Smith-Carfagna) have enjoyed numerous hearings and are receiving ongoing consideration by the General Assembly.

 

FEDERAL

 

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 66 million Americans will increase 2.0 percent in 2018, the Social Security Administration announced Friday. The 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits) The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Columbus) announced Thursday that he's leaving Congress to become president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable.

 

GAMING/GAMBLING

 

A coalition of state agencies Wednesday released the analysis of the second Ohio Gambling Survey, finding a rise in the number of problem gamblers in the state but still trailing the national average rates of problem gambling. The survey released by the Ohio for Responsible Gambling coalition, which includes the Ohio casino control, lottery and racing commissions and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), is a follow-up to the baseline survey done in 2012, before the state's casinos and racinos had opened. According to the coalition, the new 2016-17 survey included 24,000 responses and includes the same prevalence measurement used in 2012, the Canadian Problem Gambling Index.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

 

Former Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) on Wednesday apologized for improper interactions with a female state employee, admitting that situation played a major role in his decision to resign on Monday. "I'm not proud of recent inappropriate conversations that I had with a state employee who did not work for me but worked in a nearby state office. After we met, I sometimes asked her for hugs and talked with her in a way that was not appropriate for a married man, father, and grandfather like myself," Hite said in a statement. He also said he has been ill for the last year and doesn't have the strength to continue to travel from home to the Statehouse.

 

When asked about the Hite resignation, Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said all members of the Senate will soon be required to receive training on sexual harassment.

 

Obhof later in the week announced the process for filing Hite's vacant seat, with applications due by 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6.

 

The Senate Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing business owners using a professional employer organization (PEO) to be eligible for the business income tax deduction adopted in the 130th General Assembly, though some Democrats said they want to see the deduction itself addressed. Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), the sponsor of SB186, called the legislation "a simple little tax bill" that he says clarifies existing law and came out of interested party meetings between business owners and the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT).

 

In other action, the Senate unanimously passed SB143 (Eklund), designating Sept. 25 as "International Ataxia Awareness Day" in Ohio and SB169 (Wilson-Eklund), which addresses the sale of travel insurance.

 

A popular farmer's market held two days a week from the spring through the fall will be getting a new, temporary home on the Statehouse lawn over the next three years, according to the director of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB). Laura Battocletti told the board during its Thursday meeting that the Pearl Market, held on Tuesdays and Fridays, will be moving next year due to renovations at the Rhodes State Office Tower.

 

In other legislative action, the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee reported out HB52 (Rezabek) which regulates the solicitation of certain deeds; and the Senate Ways and Means Committee reported out HB118 (Merrin) which deals with dismissal of property tax complaints.

 

GOVERNOR

 

Gov. John Kasich joined former Vice President Joe Biden to talk about bridging the political divide among Americans, criticizing what he called a broken political system that punishes people for compromising with those that have differing views. Kasich appeared with Biden for 90 minutes at an event on the University of Delaware campus, which is Biden's alma mater. The event was hosted by the university's Center for Political Communication and the Biden Institute.

 

Gov. John Kasich signed three bills Thursday:

 

- HB6 (Barnes), under which a publisher will not be allowed to solicit or accept payments in exchange for removing, correcting, modifying or refraining from publishing criminal record information.

- HB94 (Sykes-Perales), which designates February as "Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month."

- SB27 (Beagle), which designates the period beginning March 13 and ending April 15 as "Ohio Deaf History Month."

 

Appointments made during the week include the following:

 

- Neil J. Giering of Garfield Hts. (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the Board of Building Appeals for a term beginning Oct. 13, 2017, and ending Oct. 13, 2021.

- Donald B. Leach, Jr. of Columbus (Franklin County), Terence M. McCafferty of Seven Hills (Cuyahoga County), Donald R. McIlroy of Circleville (Pickaway County), Christopher L. Miller of Dublin (Franklin County), John N. Pavlis of North Canton (Stark County), Carl Schultz of Delaware (Delaware County), and A. Bailey Stanbery of Toledo (Lucas County) reappointed to the Board of Building Standards for terms beginning Oct. 14, 2017, and ending Oct. 13, 2021.

- Lisa Haberbusch of Wooster (Wayne County) and Erin Michel of Columbus (Franklin County) reappointed to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board for terms beginning Oct. 13, 2017, and ending Oct. 10, 2020.

- Ronald F. Budzik of Centerville (Montgomery County) and Richard Sadlier of Dayton (Montgomery County) reappointed to the Sinclair Community College Board of Trustees for terms beginning Oct. 13, 2017, and ending Oct. 12, 2022.

- Amy E. Barker of Centerville (Montgomery County) reappointed to the Sinclair Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 16, 2017, and ending Oct. 12, 2022.

- Margaret Knerr of Powell (Franklin County) reappointed to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board for a term beginning Oct. 16, 2017, and ending Oct. 10, 2020.

- Christin M. Jungers, Ph.D. of Steubenville (Jefferson County) reappointed to the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board for a term beginning Oct. 17, 2017, and ending Oct. 10, 2020.

- Deborah Allen of Granville (Licking County) to the State Auctioneers Commission for a term beginning Oct. 17, 2017 and ending Oct. 9, 2019.

- Vanessa L. Stallkamp, M.D. of Lima (Allen County) to the Maternity and Newborn Advisory Council for a term beginning Nov. 1, 2017, and ending Oct. 31, 2022.

- Daniel L. Frobose of Pemberville (Wood County) to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for a term beginning Oct. 18, 2017, and ending Jan. 25, 2020.

- Amy L. Francis of Hubbard (Trumbull County) and Cynthia A. Gensamer of Massillon (Stark County) to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for terms beginning Oct. 18, 2017, and ending May 27, 2020.

- William "B.J." Nurczyk, Jr. of Steubenville (Jefferson County) reappointed to the Eastern Gateway Community College Board of Trustees for a term beginning Oct. 19, 2017, and ending Oct. 16, 2022.

- Michael J. Scharfenberger of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Board of Executives of Long-term Services and Supports for a term beginning Oct. 19, 2017, and ending May 27, 2020.

 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

While a bipartisan deal has been struck in the U.S. Senate to continue making cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies, Ohio senators are split on the issue. In separate conference calls with reporters Thursday, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) disagreed on whether to make the payments, which, until recently, were paid by the federal government. They're aimed at helping insurers keep premium costs down for coverage on the Healthcare Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

 

Members of the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) relayed concerns about readiness and beta testing standards in the Behavioral Health Redesign Initiative (BHRI) to Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Barbara Sears and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Tracy Plouck Thursday.

 

State Auditor Dave Yost is joining Sens. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and John Eklund (R-Chardon) to announce legislation aimed at Medicaid fraud and overpayments which they say have cost taxpayers nearly $29 million since 2011 and deprived Medicaid patients of needed care.

 

A new brief released by the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF) recently examines the variety of factors that lead to Ohio's troubling infant mortality rates and makes recommendations to improve the health of mothers and babies. The report, "Birth Equity - A Pathway Forward," specifically notes the disparity between infant mortality rates for white and black babies. Last week, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released their 2016 infant mortality report, showing white infant mortality to be 5.8 percent and black infant mortality to be nearly three times higher at 15.2 percent.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

The Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) recently announced a new partnership with Cleveland State University's (CSU) Monte Ahuja College of Business to offer the Ohio Export Internship Program. This program matches businesses interested in exporting with college students who have taken export-focused coursework. Cleveland State joins the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and Youngstown State University's Williamson College of Business in helping Ohio companies identify new export markets or improve export initiatives.

 

Angela Spalsbury, Ph.D., of Chesterland, OH, has been selected as the new dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State University at Geauga in Burton, OH, and Kent State's Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg, OH. A Kent State alumna, Spalsbury currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Youngstown State University. She will join Kent State on Jan. 1, 2018.

 

Youngstown State University announced recently that it has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development to help create the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center (MICC) in downtown Youngstown. The project is one of only 35 nationwide to receive a grant from the federal agency, and it is the largest grant to a university among the group.

 

INSURANCE

 

Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment recently issued a consumer alert urging Ohioans to be cautious in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma when purchasing a used vehicle. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates one million refurbished vehicles with concealed flood damage could appear on the market outside of hurricane-hit areas.

 

Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) Director Jillian Froment Wednesday announced that the average rate changes in 2016 for the top 10 homeowners and private passenger auto insurance groups in Ohio increased 1.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Ohioans pay among the lowest average insurance premiums for homeowners and auto insurance.

 

JUDICIAL

 

The Board of Professional Conduct Friday issued Advisory Opinion 2017-7 concerning court-established self-help clinics for self-represented litigants.

 

Attorney General Mike DeWine applauded the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday to hear his appeal in the Ohio v. American Express dispute. The case will review a lower court finding that American Express's "anti-steering" rules, which bar vendors from alerting customers to lower-cost credit cards, violate federal anti-trust laws -- a decision which the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned.

 

The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether a class action lawsuit can proceed against the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) for "unjust enrichment" in assessing injured workers more than $1 million in administrative banking fees as part of its electronic debiting program for BWC benefits.

 

Granted new life by the Ohio Supreme Court Thursday, the Cincinnati Reds will have another opportunity to explain why it should not have to pay state use tax on bobbleheads, baseball cards and other memorabilia distributed to fans as promotional items at home games. Cincinnati previously missed a filing deadline for its 2017 appeal of a Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) decision that went against the Reds.

 

MARIJUANA

 

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) has released a request for proposals (RFP) to provide a medical marijuana toll-free telephone hotline. The board is required by law to establish a hotline to respond to patients, caregivers and health professionals regarding "adverse reactions" to medical marijuana. According to the RFP, the hotline would be operational Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. The contractor would also be required to provide web resources on medical marijuana.

 

MILITARY AFFAIRS

 

Forming a state office dedicated to addressing military issues in Ohio is a "no-brainer," Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) told attendees of Tuesday's Ohio Defense Forum on Ohio State University's main campus.

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

 

Ohio Sea Grant announced Monday that it has completed reviews for the 2018-20 research grants programs and will fund seven projects at universities across Ohio and along the Lake Erie coast. The projects focus on various aspects of harmful algal blooms, fisheries, pharmaceutical residues and tourism, Ohio Sea Grant said.

 

PENSIONS

 

The Board of Trustees for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) Wednesday passed a proposal that would change future cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that are provided annually to all OPERS retirees. The board acted after receiving feedback from OPERS retirees and other stakeholders. The proposed change requires passage by the Ohio Legislature before it can become effective. If enacted, the proposal would reduce the system's unfunded liabilities by approximately $4 billion, OPERS explained

 

PEOPLE

 

The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) honored four attorneys at its recent annual awards dinner. OSBF President Andrew C. Storar presented the awards to the following honorees:

- 2017 Ritter Award Winner: Retired Honorable Evelyn Lundberg Stratton of Columbus with Vorys.

- 2017 Ramey Award for Distinguished Community Service: Stephen F. Tilson of Galion with Hottenroth Garverick Tilson & Garverick Co.

- 2017 Outstanding Program or Organization Award: Sisters In Law, Toledo.

- 2017 Statewide Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 & Under: Michael W. Kelley of Columbus with Donald W. Kelley & Associates.

 

STATE GOVERNMENT

 

The only item held by Controlling Board members on Monday received a number of questions from Democrats before ultimately passing the panel with one member objecting. Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), who recorded the lone objection to the Development Service Agency's (DSA) request to grant $1.6 million to Venture for America (VFA), raised concerns that Ohio would not receive an adequate return on investment. The fellowship grant, approved by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission in August, aims to support the placement of recent college graduates into Ohio tech startup companies.

 

TAXATION

 

Tax Commissioner Joe Testa was the lone sponsor Tuesday at the first meeting of the latest group charged with studying Ohio's tax expenditures -- more popularly known as "tax loopholes." Led by Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton) and including Sens. John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and Reps. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake), this committee was pointed to by the 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission as key in the state's potential move toward a flat tax.

 

Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa on Thursday encouraged business taxpayers "that want to cut the cost of reporting and filing municipal tax" to sign up for a new service provided by the department. Registration is now available at the Ohio Department of Taxation's (ODT) website (www.tax.ohio.gov) for business taxpayers seeking to opt-in for centralized filing and state administration of the municipal net profit tax for the 2018 tax year, the department said in a news release. Taxpayers can register either electronically or by filling out and submitting a paper registration form.

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

Fifty miles of roadside on the Ohio Turnpike will soon be equipped with radio units that can communicate with state vehicles. The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) on Monday approved a nearly $1.5 million contract with Logicalis Inc. to provide a vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications network.

 

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission also approved a resolution creating a memorial sign program honoring those killed while working on the Ohio Turnpike.

 

UTILITIES

 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is giving itself four months to complete a state audit of Duke Energy's consumer disconnect procedures following a commission ruling that the company had violated ratepayer protections in the Ohio Administrative Code for the winter heating season, culminating in two persons' deaths. Duke rejects that finding and says its policies are in compliance.

 

House members got up to speed Tuesday on the latest round of legislation aimed at the resale of electricity at marked up prices to residents of multi-family units -- otherwise known as sub-metering. Companion legislation HB249 (Duffey) and SB157 (Bacon) have revived the push to regulate Nationwide Energy Partners (NEP) and other sub-metering companies after legislation was first introduced in the 130th General Assembly.

 

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

 

Thirty-eight Ohio fire departments will share $406,270 in grants from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) under a new program to reduce firefighters' exposure to toxic environmental elements. The fire departments are the first in the state to receive funding under BWC's new Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program, which provides $2 million each year to help departments purchase safety gear and equipment designed to protect firefighters from carcinogens and other harmful elements encountered in a fire fight.

 

 

 

 


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