Business & Industry 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 August 17, 2017
 
HB20COMPENSATORY DAMAGES CAP REMOVAL (GONZALES A, BOGGS K) To remove the cap on the amount of compensatory damages that represents damages for noneconomic loss that is recoverable in a tort action when the tort action is brought by a victim of rape, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, or negligent assault.
 Current Status:   2/8/2017 - Referred to Committee House Government Accountability and Oversight
 
HB27WORKERS' COMPENSATION BUDGET (BRINKMAN T) To make changes to the Workers' Compensation Law, to make appropriations for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation for the biennium beginning July 1, 2017, and ending June
30, 2019, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of the Bureau's programs.
 Current Status:   6/30/2017 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; Eff. 6/30/2017
 
HB28INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION BUDGET (BRINKMAN T) To make appropriations for the Industrial Commission for the biennium beginning July 1, 2017, and ending June 30, 2019, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of Commission programs.
 Current Status:   6/28/2017 - SIGNED BY GOVERNOR; eff. July 1, 2017
 
HB49OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) Creates FY 2018-2019 main operating budget.
 Current Status:   7/6/2017 - Consideration of Governor's Veto; Remaining Veto Items Left Pending by House
 
HB53PUBLIC EMPLOYEES-MEMBER DUES (BECKER J) To remove any requirement under the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Law that public employees join or pay dues to any employee organization, to prohibit public employers from requiring public employees to join or pay dues to any employee organization, to prohibit an employee organization from being required to represent public employees who are not members of the employee organization, and to make an appropriation.
 Current Status:   2/14/2017 - Referred to Committee House Finance
 
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)
 
HB99WORKERS COMPENSATION-PNEUMOCONIOSIS (CERA J) To modify workers' compensation benefit amounts for occupational pneumoconiosis claims and to create the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board to determine medical findings for such claims.
 Current Status:   6/21/2017 - House Insurance, (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
 
HB216USED VEHICLE TRADE-IN CREDIT (HAMBLEY S, BRINKMAN T) To authorize a sales and use tax trade-in credit for purchases of used motor vehicles from a licensed dealer.
 Current Status:   6/6/2017 - House Ways and Means, (Second Hearing)
 
HB268WORKERS COMPENSATION-SELF-INSURERS (HENNE M) To make changes to the Workers' Compensation Law with respect to self-insuring employers.
 Current Status:   6/20/2017 - Referred to Committee House Insurance
 
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:   6/21/2017 - BILL AMENDED, House Higher Education and Workforce Development, (Third 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
 
SB49HIRING-FELONY CONVICTIONS (WILLIAMS S) To prohibit private employers from including on an employment application any question concerning whether an applicant has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony.
 Current Status:   2/15/2017 - Referred to Committee Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce
 
SB72PREVAILING WAGE LAW (HUFFMAN M) To allow political subdivisions, special districts, and state institutions of higher education to elect to apply the Prevailing Wage Law to public improvement projects.
 Current Status:   3/7/2017 - Referred to Committee Senate Finance
 
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
 
SB132TAX CREDIT-FOREIGN TRADE (DOLAN M, EKLUND J) To establish a five-year pilot program whereby taxpayers with facilities in this state with activated foreign trade zone status may claim a nonrefundable commercial activity tax credit equal to the amount redeployed by the taxpayer to job creation and renewable energy resources.
 Current Status:   4/26/2017 - Referred to Committee Senate 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
 
SB179AUTOMATIC LLC DISSOLUTION, ALERTS (LAROSE F, HACKETT R) To automatically dissolve a limited liability company under certain circumstances and to authorize the Secretary of State to implement an electronic notification system to alert a person if a business name containing a specific word has been registered.
 Current Status:   8/10/2017 - Introduced
 
Week in Review

Week in Review
Friday, Aug. 11, 2017

 

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission voted unanimously to award $8 million to NineSigma to manage the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge. The challenge will focus on attaining and advancing new ideas through competition, to find innovative solutions to address prevention, treatment and overdose response. According to Keith Jenkins of the Ohio Development Services Agency, $1 million of the award will go to administrative overhead, while $7 million will be used to pay out prize money to organizations. Jenkins also pointed out that NineSigma has managed similar competitions all over the country.

 

President Donald Trump's announcement that his administration will be taking steps to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency and providing more federal resources to fight it drew applause from Ohio figures. Trump told reporters that the White House is working on the official paperwork.

 

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

 

Anticipating what may come next in the federal health care debate, Jocelyn Guyer of Manatt Health Solutions in Washington, D.C., told attendees at this week's National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman's (R-OH) proposal could well be one that returns to active consideration. According to Guyer, Portman's plan -- included in the Senate replacement bill to the Affordable Care Act repeal and replace proposal -- was designed to give states a way to replace some of the coverage lost if the Medicaid expansion were eliminated.

 

AGRICULTURE

 

The Ohio State Fair's 2017 Sale of Champions livestock auction brought in a total of $284,000, according to the Ohio Expositions Commission. On the sale bill were grand champion and reserve champion market lambs, market barrows and market cattle, as well as grand champion market goats, grand champion and reserve champion market chickens, grand champion market turkeys, and a block of Swiss cheese to represent the seven dairy champions. This year's sale broke one record. The Reserve Grand Champion Market Barrow sold for $32,000, breaking the previous record of $31,000 set in 2013.

 

The 2017 Ohio State Fair concluded its 12-day run with an estimated 801,031 attendees entering the gates, reflecting a 13 percent decrease from 2016, according to the Ohio Expositions Commission. Fair attendance was 921,214 in 2016 and 982,305 in 2015, according to the Ohio Expositions Commission. Next year's fair will run Wednesday, July 25 through Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

The Ohio Attorney General's Office has been asked to weigh in on whether a county board of elections is in fact a political subdivision or a function of the state, and whether boards of elections may therefore impose residency requirements on their members and employees.

 

AUDITOR OF STATE

 

Charter schools subject to claw-back after being overpaid by the state could face further financial penalties if they don't seek a proportional reimbursement from their sponsors and management companies, Auditor of State Dave Yost said. In a guidance letter to charters, Yost said schools found to have been overpaid by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for lacking documented proof of student participation should retain legal counsel to determine whether restitution should be sought.

 

BALLOT ISSUES

 

The campaign supporting the Drug Price Relief Act has filed a complaint seeking to force their opposition to reveal a more detailed list of their campaign contributors. "The complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission alleges that the opponents have failed to comply with state campaign finance disclosure laws, including failing to file a complete and accurate list of donors, the essence of such laws," said Don McTigue, an election law attorney for Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, the proponents of Issue 2 slated for the November ballot.

 

A new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for WOIO-TV in Cleveland finds that despite a large marketing blitz that started earlier in the summer by both sides, Ohioans still don't know much about Issue 2, the Drug Price Relief Act. The proposal would limit what the state pays for prescription drugs to no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for the same drug. Proponents say it will reduce the costs of prescription drugs and save the state money, while opponents argue it will raise the cost of drugs for those who don't obtain their drugs through a state source.

 

Yes on Issue 2, the campaign committee supporting the Drug Price Relief Act on the November ballot, said Thursday that it has filed an additional complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission accusing opponents of the issue of intentionally hiding their funding sources, in violation of Ohio law.

 

FY18-19 BUDGET

 

"We're off to a good start," Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Tim Keen told Hannah News after preliminary revenue figures came out for July -- the first month of the new biennium and the new revenue forecasts. Estimates were only off "one-tenth of 1 percent" or approximately $2.2 million out of revenues of nearly $1.7 billion for the month.

 

The push for tighter peace officer recruiting and training standards begun in the last General Assembly continues in the new biennium with remaining GRF funds from 131-HB64 (R. Smith) and new grant money for law enforcement agencies being certified by the Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). The FY18-19 biennial budget, HB49 (R. Smith) provides the community-police collaborative $1 million in each fiscal year for law enforcement grants and support for database development on police use of force, a public awareness campaign, and state assistance with policy-making and policing manuals at law enforcement agencies.

 

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

 

A new report in a series of studies conducted by the Woodstock Institute shows that, in various cities around the country, banks are reluctant to make small loans to businesses in low-income areas and minority communities. It's the third in the "Patterns of Disparity" series focusing on specific American cities, this time examining Detroit, Michigan and Richmond, Virginia.

 

EDUCATION

 

John W. Halkias, a member of the Plain Local Schools Board of Education in Stark County, has been nominated as the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) president-elect. If he is elected during OSBA's statewide conference in November, he will become president of the organization in 2019 after a term as president-elect.

 

Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) has introduced legislation ensuring all money recovered from overpayments to charter and online schools would go to local school districts. SB175, introduced Monday, would establish that all money recovered from overpayments to charter schools would be returned to the district from which it was deducted, regardless of the type of audit or review.

 

State Board of Education Freshman Martha Manchester told Hannah News in an interview that, despite being appointed to the board by Gov. John Kasich in January 2017, it was beneficial to endure the rigors of a campaign first. Manchester ran in Western Ohio's 1st District, where Linda Haycock won with approximately 38 percent of the vote, while Manchester received 24 percent of the vote in the four-person contest.

 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria this week announced the 10 teachers who now have the title of 2018 Teacher of the Year for their State Board of Education districts, according to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The awards are part of the Ohio Teacher of the Year program.

 

Educators face a new challenge in light of a recent Brookings Institution report on the long-term effects of pre-K programs: What needs to be done to avoid squandering the billions spent on pre-K education? How can a system be created to sustain the boost pre-K education gives the children? These questions grew out of a recently completed review of 400 studies regarding the effectiveness of pre-K programs by a group of leading pre-K researchers released in April by the Brookings Institution and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

 

ELECTIONS

 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has switched its position on the way Ohio cleans up its voter rolls, filing an amicus brief supporting Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in a lawsuit challenging the state on removing voters for not casting ballots in several consecutive elections. The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing an appeal in A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition (NEOCH) v. Jon Husted, which challenged the way Ohio cleans up its voter rolls through what it calls the supplemental process.

 

Voters around Ohio saw 11 local issues on Tuesday's special election ballot, and they rejected more than half of them, according to unofficial election results. Portage County voters rejected a combo levy to build and renovate Crestwood Local School District facilities, and also rejected an additional tax levy for Waterloo Local School District to pay for current expenses. Voters in Madison and Franklin counties rejected an additional tax levy for Madison-Plains Local School District.

 

EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

 

The national unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.3 percent in July, down from 4.4 percent in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 209,000 in July, with the country seeing increases in food services and drinking places, professional and business services, and health care, the bureau said in a news release. Employment growth has averaged 184,000 per month thus far this year, in line with the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.

 

ENERGY

 

The first-ever American Wind Week runs Monday, Aug. 7 through Saturday, Aug. 12 to mark the contribution of wind generation to the U.S. energy market, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced Monday. AWEA designated the week to recognize that wind power is now the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the U.S. and supports over 100,000 jobs throughout the 50 states.

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that oversees Ohio's regional transmission organization (RTO), will return to its first quorum in half year following U.S. Senate confirmation of two appointees of President Donald Trump. The Senate voted last week to confirm Neil Chatterjee, senior energy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Robert Powelson, member and former chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and current president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Switching the electric distribution grid from one managed by traditional utilities to one operated by a "financially disinterested entity" could help Ohioans and other Americans tap the advantages of distributed energy, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says in a new white paper. The report says distribution grid planning must evolve from the largely closed process that is its current state -- an energy "black box" -- to one that allows for transparency and ensures distributed energy resources like rooftop solar is fully realized.


Sen. Sean O'Brien (D-Cortland) this week was named the 2017 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Propane Gas Association during its 69th annual summer convention in Geneva-on-the-Lake.

 

Clean Fuels Ohio named Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) its 2017 Public Official of the Year at their annual Midwest Green Fleet Forum.

 

State legislators and energy officials are busy addressing the rapid expansion of solar power by creating policies, regulations and programs that reflect their state's goals and energy markets, according to a new report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). The report was released this week during NCSL's 43rd annual Legislative Summit in Boston.

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

A University of Toledo (UT) graduate student in biology who has been working to restore giant, ancient sturgeon to Lake Erie was recently selected as a finalist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship. As a finalist, Jessica Sherman Collier will spend a year working in Washington, D.C. on water resource policy, according to a news release from UT.

 

The diesel fuel constituents found in the spilled drilling fluid in Stark County wetlands did not appear as a result of the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) process, according to Rover Pipeline LLC. Energy Transfer Partners Vice President Chris Sonneborn wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) saying that Rover never requested or approved the use of diesel fuel in its HDD process. He said the company will reiterate to employees and contractors the importance of following the FERC certificate, hire additional security and have a third-party engineer oversee drilling operations.

 

FEDERAL

 

Lawmakers in statehouses across the United States have approved 133 immigration-related laws this year, representing a 90 percent increase compared to 2016, according to a report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures during the Legislative Summit in Boston. The "Report on State Immigration Laws" summarizes laws and resolutions enacted between January and June 2017.

 

GAMING/GAMBLING

 

Ohio's casinos and racinos saw a moderate increase in revenue in July, in most cases easily beating out many earnings figures from a year ago. According to the monthly report released Monday by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the casinos earned a combined $69.9 million in July, up from $64 million last month and $66.1 million in July 2016. Ohio's seven racinos report $84.5 million in the first month of this new fiscal year, up from $78.1 million in June and $80.1 million in July 2016.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE  

 

Chairwoman Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) of the Speaker's Task Force on Alzheimer's and Dementia announced non-legislative members of the panel Friday and its calendar for August–October. The task force was formed to spread dementia awareness and understanding and to provide those living with dementia and Alzheimer's resources to keep them independent longer and to decrease the cost of the disease, according to Pelanda. She says the panel has the goal of providing collaboration between counties and the state through dementia outreach efforts, creating dementia friendly programs, and creating the availability of respite care for those in need.

 

During their first meeting, members heard about the scope of the disease, how Ohioans are affected by it, and programs that are in place to help those with dementia. Pelanda said no more than three bills will come out of the task force, which must report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by the end of the year. Lawmakers hope to create a statewide Alzheimer's and dementia care plan out of the task force's work.

 

More than 6,000 state legislators, legislative staff, federal officials and others from across the country and world made their way to Boston for the annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

Legislative Summit from Sunday to Wednesday, Aug. 6-9.

 

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said Thursday that he anticipates the chamber will take up some of the House veto overrides when the Senate is next in session on Wednesday, Aug. 23, but also that the chamber could wait to do so during September sessions.

 

How effective are state legislatures was a question posed to lawmakers gathered in Boston for the 43rd Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures. To answer that, one must first determine how to measure effectiveness, said Karl Kurtz, director of NCSL's Trust for Representative Democracy, a civic education campaign, and a principal in Legis Matters based in Colorado, who moderated the session.

 

GOVERNOR

 

Appointments made during the week include the following:

 

- Michael L Gonidakis of Dublin (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Medical Board for a term beginning Aug. 8, 2017 and ending July 31, 2022.

 

- Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) (Montgomery County) and Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) (Delaware County) to the Early Childhood Advisory Council for terms beginning Aug. 8, 2017 and continuing at the pleasure of the governor.

 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

A Monday report on health care costs, accessibility and outcomes by personal finance site WalletHub found that Ohio is near the middle among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report said Ohio was 22nd overall, with sub-rankings of ninth in costs, 14th in access and 38th in outcomes. Analysts used "35 measures" related to the three areas to determine the overall rank, according to WalletHub.

 

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is urging parents to make sure their kids are up-to-date on vaccines against serious diseases for the back-to-school season.   To emphasize the importance of vaccinations, and to ensure that children are protected with all the immunizations they need, ODH is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

 

The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians has announced that Dr. John (Jack) O'Handley will receive its 2017 Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award. O'Handley is the medical director for Mount Carmel Health System Community Outreach in Columbus, where he precepts medical students and residents on the Outreach Mobile Clinic. 

 

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) offered an overview of health services provided in Ohio schools in a recently issued report that called for more health services across the board. The report is the second in a series of four about intersections of health and education outcomes, and it focuses on the types of health professionals working in schools; partnerships for providing health services; and the growing need for mental health services in schools.

 

The Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice (OCHCH) announced Thursday that it has selected former House aide and lobbyist Joe Russell to serve as its new executive director. Prior to joining OCHCH, Russell served as the director of policy and advocacy for the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB).

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

A Wednesday report by personal finance site WalletHub found that Ohio leads the U.S. for the most student debt among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Analysts used 10 key metrics, ranging from "average student debt to unemployment rate among the population aged 25 to 34 to share of students with past-due loan balances," according to WalletHub.

 

An Ohio State University (OSU) researcher is conducting a multi-state study testing for swine flu as pigs infected with a flu virus were confirmed at two recent county fairs in Ohio. Andrew Bowman of OSU's Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine has found that, on average, one out of every four fairs he attends every year has at least one pig infected with the Influenza A Virus Infecting Swine (IAV-S).

 

OSU said donors gave in record numbers in FY17, with more than 267,000 donors contributing over $532 million to education, research, athletics and innovation, including a cash total of $403 million. The university said fundraising increased almost 17 percent from FY16, when the university drew a then-record $457 million, including $396 million in cash, from 246,000 donors. The new figures included nearly $105 million in contributions from more than 78,000 alumni, while current students and parents gave more than $5 million.

 

JUDICIAL

 

Female attorneys face a persistent gender barrier in courtrooms ranging from state to federal, trial to appellate, and civil to criminal. That's the word from the New York State Bar Association, which finds only one out of four lawyers serving in a lead counsel role are women. The Task Force on Women's Initiatives under the bar association's Commercial & Federal Litigation Section has issued the report "If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in Alternative Dispute Resolution."

 

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor has been elected president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and chair of the National Center for State Courts' (NCSC) Board of Directors. The one-year positions became effective this week during CCJ's annual conference and NCSC's Board of Directors meetings in Philadelphia.

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT

 

A Thursday report by personal finance site WalletHub found Ohio is the third most lenient for DUI offenses among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The first and second spots were held by South Dakota and D.C., respectively, with Idaho and North Dakota tied for fourth and Maryland rounding out fifth. Analysts used 15 key metrics, according to WalletHub, that were divided into criminal penalties and prevention. Ohio was ranked 16th most lenient for criminal penalties and fifth most lenient for prevention.

 

MARIJUANA

 

The first pot cultivator licenses will likely be awarded in November, Kasich administration officials running the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) said Thursday. Addressing members of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, officials also sought to ease worries about the potential lack of institutions of higher education to provide laboratory testing in the first year, noting private labs can be issued licenses as early as June 5, 2018. The entire program is required by law to be up and running by Sept. 8, 2018.

 

MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM

 

Two top level officials in the Trump administration's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) addressed attendees at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit Sunday, giving basically the same answer to some of the stickier questions from the state legislators: "We don't want to tell the states what to do." This is why this administration supports giving states greater flexibility because "they know" best how to handle issues ranging from safety net questions, mental health parity, opioid response, etc.

 

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has published a new primer on the Medicaid program. Entitled "Understanding Medicaid: A Primer for State Legislators," the publication summarizes key elements of the program.

 

NATURAL RESOURCES

 

After months of being pushed by public officials from both major parties to release their strategy to stop Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at last issued its tentative plan Monday. The tentatively selected plan is the "Technology Alternative – Complex Noise with Electric Barrier," according to a news release from USACE. The plan includes the following measures: non-structural measures, complex noise, water jets, engineered channel, electric barrier, flushing lock, boat launches and mooring area.

 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has released its outdoor recreation public survey, which aims to help park districts, nature preserves and others in the community understand trends in Ohio and set priorities for funding and improvements. Ohio University's (OU) Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs' final report for the 2018 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) analyzed 5,059 completed surveys from respondents from all of Ohio's 88 counties, providing insight into the desires of the state's recreationalists.

 

Nominations are now being accepted for the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame (HOF), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced Tuesday. Selection criteria and a nomination form are available at ohiodnr.gov/HallOfFame. Online nominations must be submitted no later than Tuesday, Sept. 5. The online form may also be printed and mailed to ODNR Communications, 2045 Morse Rd., Building D-3, Columbus 43229. Printed forms also must be received no later than Sept. 5.

 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced Wednesday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with American Electric Power (AEP) by which the parties will negotiate for the state to purchase a major portion of AEP's 60,000-acre ReCreation Land property in Eastern Ohio. The deal could become the most significant expansion of public recreation opportunities in the state's recent history, according to a news release from the department. ODNR Director James Zehringer said the land could be used by the state for a wide range of outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing.

 

POLITICS

 

While she avoided the fray of upcoming elections, former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson shared ways she's seen the political landscape change and her goals for increasing the number of women in public office during a forum at the Columbus Metropolitan Club Wednesday. The event also featured former Columbus Dispatch editor Joe Hallett, who asked questions before the floor was opened to the audience.

 

State legislators from all 50 states gathered in Boston for the annual National Conference of State Legislatures Summit Sunday and will continue swapping ideas on policymaking through Wednesday. The opening session, titled "From Politics to Statesmanship: Solving Problems in a Bipartisan World," was a panel discussion about how Massachusetts lawmakers have managed to get things accomplished despite the fact that the governor is Republican while the House and Senate are firmly under the control of Democrats.

 

Voters want problem-solvers, not partisan ideologues, political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz told a gathering of state lawmakers from across the country at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Boston.

Sen. Deb Peters of South Dakota became the 45th president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at the annual Legislative Summit in Boston. Peters, a Republican, succeeds Democratic Senator Dan Blue of North Carolina. NCSL, a bipartisan organization that serves the nation's 7,383 state lawmakers and more than 20,000 legislative staff throughout the country, alternates its leadership annually between the two parties.

 

Noted presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin closed out the 2017 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Wednesday by providing some insights into the presidency of Donald Trump and finding some bits of advice for him in the way three of the presidents she has "lived with the longest" conducted themselves: Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR).

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

 

The manufacturer of the Fire Ball ride that malfunctioned on the first day of the Ohio State Fair, killing an 18-year-old man and injuring seven others, said over the weekend that "excessive corrosion" was to blame for the accident. Albert Kroon, product manager for KMG International, said in a statement posted on the company's Facebook page that the company conducted an investigation into what caused the ride to malfunction on July 26 when a passenger-carrying gondola detached from the supporting sweep arm.

 

The Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) is urging Ohioans to educate themselves on how they can safely view North America's first solar eclipse since 1979. Now less than two weeks away, the eclipses will cover 80 to 90 percent of the sun in in Ohio and will last from two to three hours, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

 

STATE GOVERNMENT

 

The Controlling Board members approved all 71 items before them Monday, including one for $53.5 million in highway operating funds by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Nine requests drew questions before approval and one on the agenda was deferred by agency request.

 

Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC) Director Jacqueline Williams on Monday announced the appointment of William Spurgeon to the position of chief deputy state fire marshal. Spurgeon was previously the chief of the Division of State Fire Marshal's Code Enforcement Bureau. In his new role, he will be responsible for assisting State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey with identifying the division's goals and objectives, and leading day-to-day operations of the office. He started his new position on Monday, according to a news release from DOC.

 

Almost 10 years after lawmakers created a commission to study and advocate for the interests of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, the group finally held its first meeting at the Riffe Center Thursday. At Thursday's meeting, members introduced themselves and discussed plans for future work, including preliminary plans to determine a more exact number of African immigrants living in the state.

 

TAXATION

 

Scott Drenkard told lawmakers gathered in Boston for the annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit Sunday that taxing final consumption requires taxes on all goods and services in a discussion on the future of the sales tax.

TRANSPORTATION

 

A last minute addition to a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) panel, White House Council on Environmental Quality's Associate Director for Infrastructure Alex Herrgott took the opportunity to promote President Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure initiative that is currently in the process of being developed.

 

Bryant Smith, an assistant professor of law and nationally recognized expert on AVs at the University of South Carolina, said that state laws regulating autonomous vehicles (AVs) were made in good faith but fall short. Bryant was part of a panel discussing the legal landscape of AVs at the Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Boston.

 

WORKERS' COMPENSATION

 

The Office of Ohio Inspector General (IG) issued a 34-page report Thursday that found "no reasonable cause" to believe the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) had acted improperly in issuing $8 million in refunds to public universities and colleges participating in the state insurance fund. BWC Internal Audit Manager Keith Elliott had contacted the IG in January 2014 to question the 2013 refunds -- ostensibly for excess contributions paid to the insurance fund.

 

 


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