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 March 24, 2017
 
HB49OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) Creates FY 2018-2019 main operating budget.
 Current Status:   3/30/2017 - House Finance, (Eighth Hearing)
 
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)
 
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
 
Week in Review

Week in Review
Friday, March 17, 2017

 

ABORTION

 

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court's decision allowing Toledo's last abortion clinic to remain open. Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine filed the appeal last September. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) had attempted to force Capital Care to close based on language contained in budget bill, 130-HB59 (Amstutz), after the clinic failed to obtain a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, as it was contracted with a facility in Michigan. The clinic sued, winning in both the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas and the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals.

 

A number of local organizations opposing abortion and euthanasia are creating a new statewide association to advance their policy goals. The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio (RTLACO) includes members from Greater Toledo Right to Life, Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, Dayton Right to Life and Cleveland Right to Life, among others that have not been named at this point, RTLACO President Ed Sitter told Hannah News. He said the group will be an "alternative voice" to Ohio Right to Life (ORTL), although the local groups may remain affiliated with ORTL.

 

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 

Ohio could see an influx of more than $50 million in federal funding to help fight the opioid epidemic through the 21st Century CURES Act, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) said.

 

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA)

 

The time for partisan political fights over health care reform is over, according to Gov. John Kasich, who wrote an opinion editorial column in The New York Times Friday. Kasich wrote that when Democrats pushed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through Congress back in 2010, they did so without including the input of Republicans. He wrote that he now sees his party doing the same. "Now, with the political tables turned in Washington, the Republicans are starting down the same unilateral path, a course that can only further divide the nation. A true and lasting reform of the health insurance system must be accomplished by bringing the two sides together, not by replacing one divisive wedge with another," he said.

 

The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) and health care providers are worried that the U.S. House Republican health care plan will cause many Ohioans to lose coverage, rolling back gains made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare." On a conference call with reporters Friday, ODP Chairman David Pepper said reducing health care coverage would be particularly harmful at this time, noting the state's struggle with opioid addiction and infant mortality. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), backed by President Donald Trump, received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats after being introduced.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the following winners of the 2016 Take Action Video Contest, in which Ohio high school students were asked to create 60-second videos on consumer protection: First place, Nickolas Belliveau (Green High School); second place, Sam Richardson (Loveland High School); and third place, Maggie Cripes (Van Wert High School).

 

AUDITOR OF STATE

 

State auditors issued 414 public records-related citations to 357 public entities in calendar year 2016, Auditor of State Dave Yost announced Sunday, the first day of 2017 Sunshine Week. The majority of citations stemmed from officials' neglecting to attend state-required public records trainings, entities lacking public records policies, or a failure to make the policy readily available to employees and the general public. Auditors routinely review public records practices during audits.

 

FY18-19 BUDGET

 

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Gary Mohr and Department of Youth Services (DYS) Department Director Harvey Reed Tuesday brought much the same message to the House Finance Transportation Subcommittee regarding their approaches to corrections which, in both instances, sees a strong focus on community-based corrections. Mohr called it a "sea change" in approach.

 

Medical, policy and addiction groups voiced concerns with proposed changes to the state's Medicaid program and addiction services contained in the governor's proposed budget, HB49 (R. Smith). Many argued Tuesday that changes would mean some would be unable to pay for health care. Others criticized the implementation of health care changes and the proposed new policies. Medicaid and mental health, topics heavily intermixed with the opioid crisis, drew testimony from nearly 20 speakers before the House Finance Health and Human Services Subcommittee.

 

Staff of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) were subjected to a grilling in a Wednesday budget subcommittee hearing that focused on the agency's eLicense system. House Finance State Government and Agency Review Subcommittee Chair Keith Faber (R-Celina) said the $39 million system, which will also cost $4.2 million for boards, commissions and licensees in FY19, "seems like a very expensive computer program." He asked if the state was getting its money's worth from the system, which is being developed by California-based Salesforce.

 

Lawmakers should scrap the Kasich administration's proposed changes to veterans' organization funding, Ohio State Association of County Veterans Service Officers President Nichole Coleman said Wednesday. Coleman was joined by Ohio State Association of Veterans Service Commissioners President Ted Bruner in testifying before the House Finance Transportation Subcommittee regarding the Ohio Department of Veterans Services' (DVS) budget proposal.

 

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

 

Secretary of State Jon Husted Tuesday said that 10,204 new entities filed to do business in Ohio during February 2017, an increase of 803 entities when compared to February 2016.

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Proponents of legislation addressing certificates of qualification for employment (CQEs) are proposing additional measures they say will further expand eligibility and accessibility to the documents, which help individuals with criminal records gain employment. Attorneys with the Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) and Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) praised various provisions of SB3 (Beagle-Balderson) for improving the CQE program during testimony in the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee.

 

Ohio's underfunded indigent defense system is creeping closer to inviting a constitutional challenge, Ohio Public Defender Tim Young told lawmakers Wednesday. "We haven't crossed a constitutional precipice, but we can see it. And we certainly aren't carrying out the statutory mandate that we are supposed to be carrying out," Young said, responding to a question from House Finance Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) during a hearing on HB49 (R. Smith). "With that in mind, it's a matter of time before this becomes a moment that we can't keep ignoring and unfortunately courts become involved, and I don't want to ever end up there. We owe our system better than that."

 

A special committee released proposals that would make significant changes to the way Ohio handles bail and pretrial court proceedings at the quarterly meeting of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission. The Ad Hoc Committee on Bail and Pretrial presented their report before the full body and took questions from members. The committee's co-chair, Judge Ken Spanagel, observed that some proposals were more concrete and actionable than others.

 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

A new report by the Upjohn Institute finds publicly funded business incentives including job creation tax credits (JCTC) have little relationship to a state's overall economic health. The study looks at 47 cities in 32 states plus the District of Columbia, which comprise more than 90 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP). Ohio cities include Cincinnati and Cleveland; surrounding states covered by the study were Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

 

EDUCATION

 

Ohio will delay sending its plan to comply with a new federal education law until September, Superintendent Paolo DeMaria told the State Board of Education on Monday, saying he didn't want the plan to become "divisive" among stakeholders and lawmakers. DeMaria also laid out plans to develop an overarching strategic plan for education in Ohio, and to conduct a review of assessments, which will respond to criticisms of over-reliance on testing and dovetails with the work of drafting the strategic plan and further updates to the plan for implementing the federal Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA).

 

Reps. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) introduced HB129, the "GET REALS Act," which they said would require the governor to complete an annual 40-hour externship in a public elementary or secondary school ranked A-F. The Governor's Externship for Training of Realistic Expectations of Academic Leadership in Schools (GET REALS) was prompted by Gov. John Kasich's budget provision requiring teachers to shadow businesspeople as a condition of maintaining their professional education licensure.

 

The State Board of Education started a series of discussions Monday on policies for reducing student absenteeism, responding to lawmakers' call for a greater focus on the issue and the Ohio Department of Education's plan to give it greater weight on state report cards.

 

The Ohio Attorney General's (AG) office presented its report of recommendations on how the state should approach drug use prevention education to the State Board of Education (SBOE) during its monthly meeting on Monday. Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives Amy O'Grady outlined the recommendations relevant to the SBOE, which include comprehensive K-12 substance abuse prevention, mandatory reporting for schools and creating social and emotional learning content standards that could be widely implemented.

 

The House Education Committee voted Tuesday to approve a bill meant to expand access to summer food programs to more children, but only after accepting an amendment from Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) along party lines to make schools' participation optional rather than a requirement. The committee also heard legislation on recruiters' access to schools. Under HB80 (LaTourette-K. Smith) as introduced, schools that decline to offer summer food programs for financial reasons would have to open up facilities where at least half of students are eligible for free lunch to outside program sponsors.

 

State Superintendent of Education Paolo DeMaria told the Senate Education Committee Wednesday that he understands the concern in the communities and the Legislature regarding testing in the state's schools. To better understand the testing landscape in Ohio, he said he has formed an Advisory Committee on Assessments which is to conduct "a holistic review of testing, including both state required tests and those implemented by districts."

 

Superintendent Paolo DeMaria's workgroup on graduation requirements started narrowing down options Wednesday for what it could recommend to the State Board of Education.

 

Auditor of State Dave Yost has released the East Knox Local School District (Knox County) from fiscal emergency, a status it held for more than two years. The district spent a combined four and a half years shifting between fiscal caution, watch and emergency because of deficit fund balances and a failure to adopt and submit an acceptable financial recovery plan.

 

ELECTIONS 2018

 

Former Rep. Connie Pillich became the third Democrat to run for governor and the fourth overall on Monday when she announced her campaign on Twitter. Pillich has been laying the groundwork for a potential run over the last year, making it official on Monday with a video aimed at Democrats and saying that Ohio "needs new, progressive and unflinching leadership."

 

Cheryl Buckland, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, announced that she is running for the 83rd House District in 2018, seeking to replace Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay), who is running for treasurer.

 

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

 

The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in February as the nation added 235,000 jobs over the month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS said jobs were added in the construction, private education services, manufacturing, health care and mining sectors. The number of unemployed was 7.5 million, slightly down from 7.6 million unemployed in January. The number of those not in the labor force was 94.2 million, down from 94.4 million.

 

ENERGY

 

In a busy week of hearings, energy legislation was quietly introduced that would restore several provisions from the vetoed 131-HB554 (Amstutz), including making renewable energy benchmarks optional rather than mandatory and expanding the energy efficiency opt-out mechanism for non-residential customers. Rep. Louis Blessing III (R-Cincinnati) is carrying HB114, which also has 54 Republican co-sponsors including House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), Majority Whip Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), former Senate President and now Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina), and Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati).

 

Legislation making renewable energy benchmarks optional and reducing energy efficiency mandates will advance expeditiously, House Public Utilities Committee Chairman Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said Tuesday. "It is the chair's intention, and the intention of leadership, to move this bill very smartly through this committee with the goal of having the bill before the Ohio House by the end of this month," Seitz said at the end of HB114's (Blessing) first hearing.

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Nearly all of Ohio's public drinking water systems have submitted maps identifying lead service lines to the Ohio

Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA). The maps are available at http://epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/pws/leadandcopper/map.aspx.

 

FEDERAL

 

A former U.S. senator predicted dire consequences for the nation Tuesday if Ohio and other states do not call an Article V convention and amend the U.S. Constitution to curb federal powers. Retired U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) joined a half dozen colleagues from the Convention of States (COS) Project in urging the Ohio Legislature to pass HJR2 (Hagan-Patmon) and join the nine other states that have already called for a convention.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) was not seen at the Statehouse this week following his weekend arrest for a felony weapons violation and a misdemeanor drunk driving offense. "Due to present circumstances, I regretfully will be absent from session and all committee hearings in the Ohio House of Representatives for the remainder of the week. Out of respect for my family, I humbly ask for space and privacy as we move forward on this personal matter," Retherford said in a statement Wednesday. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksburg) said he does not plan to take any action while Retherford deals with the legal battle.

 

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) Friday released his caucus' major policy priorities for the 132nd General Assembly, dubbing it the "Buckeye Pathway." The plan covers topics ranging from infrastructure to curbing the state's opioid and heroin addiction epidemic. The caucus said the plan focuses on three overarching goals: improving Ohio's economic environment; enhancing opportunities for all Ohioans; and strengthening families and communities.

 

Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) released a revised House schedule for the first half of 2017, cancelling sessions on Wednesday, April 5 and designating the following dates as "if needed": Thursday, March 30; Thursday, April 27; Tuesday, June 6; and Tuesday, June 13.

 

Wednesday's House session included passage of HB6 (Barnes), meant to crack down on companies that publish criminal arrest records then demand fees for inaccurate information to be withdrawn; and HB80 (LaTourette-Smith), meant to expand access to summer food programs.

 

Wednesday's Senate session included passage of SB2 (Hite), regarding environmental protection; SB44 (LaRose), to allow online filing of local office campaign finance reports; and SB57 (Kunze), to designate May 17 as "Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Awareness Day."

 

Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) announced that the Ohio House Democratic Caucus is requesting letters of interest from individuals seeking appointment to state Rep. Greta Johnson's soon-to-be vacant 35th House District seat.

 

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced Thursday that expanded televised coverage of Senate standing committees will begin next week. In addition to the Senate Finance Committee which is already being televised, the following committees will now be broadcast on the Ohio Channel: education; transportation, commerce and workforce; and health, human services and Medicaid. The Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee will replace the transportation committee in the broadcast schedule at the conclusion of the biennial budget process in June.

 

Hannah News interview series on new lawmakers featured Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Adena), who calls himself "mission-oriented." For a long time, the U.S. military picked his missions -- he joined the Navy weeks out of high school, rose to serve in the elite SEAL teams, then went to work for the U.S. Department of Defense in the international war on terrorism. He traveled all over the world -- "Places I haven't been to is actually easier to talk about than places I have been to," he says.

 

In other legislative action, House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB52 (Rezabek) regarding deed solicitation; House Health Committee reported out SB23 (Terhar) to designate Jan. 31 as "Omphalocele Awareness Day" and HB45 (Sprague) to designate May as "Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month"; House Transportation and Public Safety Committee reported out HB88 (Anielski) to create "Cuyahoga Valley Career Center" license plates and HB100 (Lipps) to designate part of Rt. 73 as "Officer Bill Johnson Memorial Highway."

 

GOVERNOR

 

Gov. John Kasich on Friday announced the appointment of Curt Hartman of Cincinnati to serve as a judge on the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, General Division. Hartman will assume office on Monday, March 20, and must run in the November 2018 election to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends Feb. 10, 2021. Hartman is replacing Judge Beth Myers, who was elected to Ohio's First District Court of Appeals.

 

Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday announced the appointment of Ronald O'Leary to serve as a judge on the Cleveland Municipal Court, Housing Division. O'Leary will assume the bench on Monday, April 10, and must run in November 2017 to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends Jan. 1, 2020. O'Leary is replacing Judge Raymond Pianka, who passed away.

 

The governor made the following appointments during the week:

 

- Joanna Ridgeway of Hilliard (Franklin County) to the Ohio Board of Nursing for a term beginning March 10, 2017, and ending Dec. 31, 2018.

- Russell D. Pollitt of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board for a term beginning March 10, 2017, and ending March 31, 2019.

- Rodney Williams of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees for a term beginning March 10, 2017, and ending Jan. 1, 2026.

- Matthew Lane of Columbus (Franklin County) to the Sewage Treatment System Technical Advisory Committee for a term beginning March 14, 2017 and ending Dec. 31, 2018.

- Rod Robinson of Mason (Warren County) to the Miami University Board of Trustees for a term beginning March 14, 2017 and ending Feb. 28, 2026.

- Bruce A. Edwards of Westerville (Delaware County) to the Transportation Review Advisory Council for a term beginning March 15, 2017 and ending June 29, 2019.

 - Gregory A. Hogg of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) and Maximino Cortes of Parma (Cuyahoga County) reappointed to the Chemical Dependency Professionals Board for terms beginning March 15, 2017 and ending Dec. 23, 2019.

 

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

 

Director Barbara Sears of the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) and Director Tracy Plouck of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Thursday updated the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) on the progress their departments are making on behavioral health redesign. In the process, they announced some revisions that stakeholders had not yet been told about but which address some of the concerns they have raised.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century, researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have discovered.

 

The House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee Wednesday heard a presentation from the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) giving a brief history of higher education in Ohio with a focus on budget issues. The presentation was delivered by Carrie Burggraf, Edward Milane, Hannah Wann, and Adam Wefler. The Ohio Department of Higher Education, which was originally formed as the Ohio Board of Regents in 1963. In 2007, the board became an advisory board to the chancellor, who went from being appointed by the board to being appointed by the governor. In 2015, the Board of Regents became the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

 

IMMIGRATION

 

Business, community and faith leaders announced Wednesday the creation of an Ohio coalition within a national immigration advocacy group, FWD.us, which seeks comprehensive immigration reform from Congress. Members of the coalition include Cleveland Jobs for Justice, Faith in Public Life, the Korean Chamber of Commerce, Latino Business League and several others, including the president of Xavier University and a president emeritus at the University of Dayton.

 

JUDICIAL

 

Cuyahoga County leads the state in the number of attorneys prompting restitution from the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners of the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection in its latest round of awards. The board released more than $70,000 to former clients of six suspended, former or deceased attorneys who had practiced in the county.


The Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday issued a one-year stay of the suspension for former part-time Medina city prosecutor Richard Barbera of Medina and placed him on monitored probation. Barbera violated professional conduct rules by mismanaging his client trust account and failing to cooperate with investigators from the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel.


MARIJUANA

 

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) will be able to issue 60 marijuana dispensary licenses before Sept. 8, 2018, under new rules the agency sent to the Common Sense Initiative (CSI). OBP raised the number of dispensaries from 40 after receiving a number of public comments requesting the increase, according to a memo from Erin Reed, the board's senior legal counsel. The agency will be able to issue more licenses based on state population, patient population and geographic location.

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

The Controlling Board approved nearly $26 million Monday to go toward the next stage of the Buckeye Lake dam reconstruction. Steve Berezansky, chief of projects for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), told the panel that the project is expected to be completed by Fall 2018, and that the overall cost will be $110 million to reconstruct the dam.

 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has recommended projects from 14 Ohio communities receive Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants, which will exceed $2.5 million. The community-based projects that were selected will help preserve green space and improve outdoor recreational activities for families across Ohio, according to a news release from the department. The funds are pending final approval

by the National Park Service.

 

PEOPLE

 

Linda Briggs Cole, former publisher of The Hannah Report, died Thursday, March 9 in Florida, where she had been living in recent years. Cole, who retired as publisher in 2007, was also very active with the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus. A celebration of her life is planned for later in the spring.

 

SMOKING/E-CIGARETTES

 

Kids in Ohio united against tobacco use on Wednesday, March 15 as they joined thousands of young people nationwide to mark "Kick Butts Day." More than 1,000 events were planned across the United States for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. On "Kick Butts Day," kids encouraged their peers to be tobacco-free, rejected tobacco companies' marketing efforts and urged elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free, the campaign explained.

 

STATE GOVERNMENT

Some tickets are now on sale for certain of the acts booked for the 2017 Ohio State Fair. While tickets for other of the acts go on sale later, some of the concerts are free with the price of admission to the fair. Acts booked include Pentatonix, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Rascal Flatts and McGuffey Lane. The state fair runs Wednesday, July 26 through Sunday, Aug. 6.

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

Representatives of townships and municipalities are asking lawmakers for the authority to levy an additional $5 motor vehicle license (MVL) fee in the transportation budget. The House amended HB26 (McColley) to allow counties to charge $5 more in MVL fees on top of the four other fees that can currently be charged by local governments. The House also increased the deputy registrar fee from $3.50 to $5.25.

 

UTILITIES

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has warned consumers of a utility payment scam that has re-surfaced across the state. The scam targets electric and natural gas utility customers, both residential and small business. A caller claiming to represent the utility informs the customer that they owe money from their past bill and must pay immediately or face termination of service. Customers are instructed to purchase a prepaid debit card and then call a toll free number to transfer the money.

 

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

 

The Kasich administration announced another billion dollars back in workers' compensation rebates to public and private employers Monday, bringing total savings in the state insurance system to $6.3 billion since the governor took office. Pending approval by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors, the rebate would return to employers 66 percent of all premiums for the recently concluded policy year. Of the $1.1 billion, private employers are due $967 million and public employers $133 million, including $92 million to local governments and $41 million to school districts.

 

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors on Thursday approved a staff recommendation to hold private employer premiums at current levels in FY18 after several years of rate cuts. The board also took a first look at the latest proposed "billion back" rebate announced by the governor this week and reviewed last week's record-breaking Ohio Safety Congress and Expo.

 


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