latest news

Ohio legislative update

7/3/2019

overview

The constitutional deadline to pass the State Operating Budget is now behind us. The House and Senate could not reach an agreement on the budget by the June 30th deadline and, therefore, have passed a 17-day continuing resolution so they may continue to hash out their differences. This update will concentrate largely on issues not pertaining to the budget with an in-depth update and analysis to follow when the budget is passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. The legislature is expected to continue budget negotiations following the July 4th holiday.

State budget

The House, Senate, and Governor’s Office have all indicated they are very close to a final budget but there are still some issues that need to be hashed out between the chambers. The major sticking points include:

Taxes

  • House eliminated bottom two tax brackets; reduced rates for everyone else by ~6%; scaled back business tax deduction for LLC income and other businesses from $250K down to $100K; eliminated motion-picture tax credit
  • Senate restored most business-income deductions, agreed to eliminate bottom two brackets; proposed larger 8% tax cut for everyone else; restored $80M motion-picture tax credit

Wraparound support services for at-risk students

  • House proposed $675M
  • Senate rolled back to $550M

Healthcare price-transparency measures

  • House would require health plans and hospitals provide estimates for nonemergency products, services and procedures
  • Senate allows patients request verbal or written cost estimates from hospital

Pharmacy Benefit Managers

  • House wants to create HSAs for Medicaid recipients to pay for prescriptions, medical devices and other expenses
  • Senate hasn’t indicated if they would agree to them

International Pricing Index that would apply foreign-based pricing to Ohio’s Medicaid program

  • House inserted these provisions
  • Senate removed them
  • Pharma and BIO led efforts to remove these provisions in Senate and leading efforts to keep them out during conference committee

Health

Behavioral Health

Recently, the House unveiled a series of priority bills, agreed upon by both parties each with a Republican and Democrat co-sponsor. Among these priority bills is HB 12, co-sponsored by Reps. D. Manning (R-New Middletown) and West (D-Canton), which creates the Ohio Children’s Behavioral Health Network, a stakeholder group that will study and help develop recommendations for a comprehensive system of programs that will support children and their families in facilitating health, social, emotional, and behavioral development. The learning network will be integrated, coordinated and deployed across the state engaging cross-sector stakeholders with a focus on prevention. The bill passed the House 86-3 in mid-June and now will move to the Senate where it is expected to pass before the end of the General Assembly.

SNAP Work Requirements

HB 200, sponsored by Wiggam (R-Wooster), would impose work requirements for recipients of food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It would also eliminate any of the existing waivers allowing able-bodied adults without dependents to receive benefits for longer than federal work requirements allow. The bill received a fair amount of criticism in committee both from advocates who say the bill will kick needy Ohioans off their benefits and county officials who warned against the administrative burden the bill may impose. The bill has not been voted out of the committee and has received no further hearings. We continue to monitor this bill.

Opioid Epidemic

Governor DeWine announced the state will invest $11 million over the next two years to help employers and unemployed workers across the state overcome issues related to the opioid epidemic. The resources, provided by a National Health Emergency Disaster Recovery Dislocated Worker Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, will support employers who hire individuals in recovery and provide job training and other services to help unemployed workers recover from substance use disorder and find jobs.

The grant will be distributed among Ohio’s 20 local workforce development areas. Services will be tailored to local needs but may include any of the following:

  • The testing of innovative approaches to combat addiction issues – for example, by supporting employers that develop second-chance policies and hire individuals in recovery.
  • Job training, career services, and supportive services for unemployed workers who have been directly or indirectly affected by the opioid crisis.
  • Temporary employment to alleviate workforce issues related to the opioid crisis – for example, to hire 911 operators, first responders, peer recovery supporters, or children services aides for up to 12 months or 2,040 hours.
  • Building the addiction treatment, mental health, and pain management workforce.

Governor’s Office of Drug Policy

The House unanimously passed HB 10, co-sponsored by Reps. Brown (D- Canal Winchester) and Stoltzfus (R-Minerva), which creates the Governor's Office of Drug Policy, a cabinet-level agency to coordinate the state’s response to addiction and other drug-related problems. House members described it as making DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative, created in January through an executive order, permanent. The bill sets aside $5.5 million annually to fund the office. The bill is now in the Senate where it is expected to pass quickly following the summer break.

EDUCATION

Higher Education

Another priority bill for the House is HB 9, co-sponsored by Reps. Jones (R-Freeport) and Sweeney (D-Cleveland), which addresses higher education degree attainment, allowing students to transfer general education course credits from one public university to another and requires institutions of higher education to identify students who have not completed a degree to find out if the student is eligible for an associate’s degree or certificate and reach out to that student. The bill passed the House 95-0 at the end of June and will now move to the Senate where it is expected to pass before the end of the General Assembly.

Workforce Development

The House also passed two bills around workforce development, specifically around credentialing. HB 2, co-sponsored by Reps. Cross (R- Kenton) and Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) would create the TechCred Program to provide reimbursements to eligible employers for training costs for both incumbent and prospective employees to earn a microcredential and the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program to provide an eligible individual a grant to pay for training costs to earn a microcredential. It would also require the Director of Development Services to develop a grant program to support industry sector partnerships and regional sector partnerships in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. Annual reports for these programs will be sent to the General Assembly each year. The bill passed the House 92-3 in mid-June and will now move to the Senate where it is expected to pass before the end of the General Assembly.

HB 4, co-sponsored by Reps. Richardson (R-Marysville) and Robinson (D-Solon), would require the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to act as a liaison between the business community and the Department of Education or the Chancellor of Higher Education with regard to industry-recognized credentials or certificate programs. The bill passed the House 89-0 in early June and will now move to the Senate where it is expected to pass before the end of the General Assembly.

BUSINESS

Third Frontier

Lt. Gov. Husted has reported that the Third Frontier fund is running out of money, with only about $180 million left. It’s unclear what’s next for the program but Husted did hint that the administration is working on what a next phase could look like. While he has not provided details on the future of the program, he has stated that successes in other projects, like the state’s push to make it easier for researchers at universities to commercialize intellectual property, might serve as “future motivation" for the general assembly to approve the next phase. G2G remains in contact with the Lt. Governor’s office to push for continued funding of the program with changes that will be better for businesses.

Aerospace

The Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC) held its first meeting of the 133rd General Assembly in mid-June with Rep. Perales (R-Beavercreek) as its Chair. Subcommittees of two to three members will be formed to advance OAATC’s work, such as Education and Workforce Development, Academics and Advocacy. A “legacy” committee was also recommended to leverage Ohio’s history of aviation. With the FAA projecting needing around 30,000 large-bodied jets in the next 15 years, there are aerospace/aviation workforce opportunities and OAATC can work on legislation to ensure Ohio provides the facilities and trained workers to seize on this.  Retired Air Force COL Joseph Zeis, Aerospace and Defense Advisor for DeWine, presented about the importance of collaboration between industry, organizations like Battelle and academia. He shared a recently announced initiative for the Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center and U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to test beyond line-of-sight unmanned aircraft capabilities represents another national first for Ohio. He also announced the Apollo 11 command module would be on display at the Cincinnati Museum Center later this year.

AGRICULTURE

Decriminalizing Hemp

SB 57, sponsored by Sen. S. Huffman (R-Tipp City), which would decriminalize hemp and create a cultivation program, passed out of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in early June. Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences expressed hope that an emergency clause could enable academic research to begin in the current growing season, while acknowledging that Ohio farmers would have to wait until next year as rules are developed. Th Ohio Farmers Union said they supported the basis of the bill but had concerns about the marketing program, saying such groups typically lead to farmers paying the tab while processing corporations receive the benefits and that may occur under the bill. Concern was also expressed over the amount of regulation and micro-managing as this was an issue for the medical marijuana industry. The bill has not yet been voted on by the full House and is not expected to pass before summer break.

ELECTIONS

Updating Voter Roll

Secretary of State LaRose will involve community and grassroots organizations in the process to update voter rolls. Under a new directive, local boards of elections will compile a list of inactive voter registrants into the Registration Reset List, which will then be provided to community organization partners of the secretary of state. LaRose calls the Registration Reset List an unprecedented effort to give Ohio’s community and grassroots organizations a real opportunity to partner in the effort to maintain accurate voter lists. Organizations seeking to partner with the secretary may send an email to SecretaryLaRose@OhioSoS.gov.

In addition, the county boards are to send each of the inactive voters on the list a mailing by Monday, July 29, notifying them of the Sept. 6, 2019 voter registration cancellation date unless some action is taken.

LaRose's Directive 2019-09 puts in place procedures for local boards of elections to contact identified registrants and then remove those registrations who over the past six years have:

  • Not responded to the 2015 communication from the county board of elections.
  • Not voted or had any voter activity.
  • Not updated or confirmed their address at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  • Not updated their registration.
  • Not responded to the July 2019 mailing advising them of their pending cancellation.

More updates