ohio legislative udpate

Insights & Analysis

Last updated on:
August 30, 2021

OVERVIEW

The Ohio Legislature was in recess for most of the summer with no session or committee meetings. As the Delta variant soars, controversy over vaccination requirements has brought the usually quiet Statehouse back in action for a rare August committee meeting. Legislators are also keeping busy as the state begins to discuss redrawing district maps for the 2022 elections with the commission setting ten public hearings this fall. The legislature is expected to return after Labor Day in what will be a busy end of 2021.

HEALTH

On August 24, the House Health Committee met for the first time in over two months to hear Substitute House Bill 248 (Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act), introduced by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), which would prohibit mandatory vaccinations, vaccination status disclosures, and related actions. The bill would apply to employers, schools, health care providers and any others and the hearing drew hundreds of supporters, who demonstrated outside and packed inside the atrium and halls of the Statehouse. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, led by former Congressman Steve Stivers, as well as Secretary of State Frank LaRose stand in opposition to the bill because it would interfere with the ability of employers to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and customers. Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and House leadership are pausing any further action after this week’s hearings and won’t allow amendments or votes at this time, but will work with the chairman, the bill’s sponsor, and interested parties on the issue – all while Ohio reported more than 4,000 new daily coronavirus cases and about 51% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of last week.

Another change impacting health is Governor DeWine’s appointment of Ohio’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, to be the new Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Current ODH Director Stephanie McCloud will return to her previous position as administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC).

EDUCATION

In early July, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced Superintendent Paolo DeMaria plans to retire in September and Deputy Superintendent John Richard also plans to retire in October. The interim appointment of Stephanie Siddens, who serves as Senior Executive Director of the Center for Student Supports at ODE, was approved this week. The Department seeks to fill the Superintendent position permanently by the end of 2021.

POLITICS AND ELECTIONS

Ohio held a Special Congressional Primary Election on August 2 to fill the vacated seats in the 11th district that includes Cleveland and Akron, formerly held by now HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and the 15th district that includes the Columbus area, formerly held by now Ohio Chamber of Congress President Steve Stivers. The Special Congressional General Election will be on Tuesday, November 2. It will decide if primary winners Shontel Brown (D) (who beat liberal Senator Bernie Sanders-endorsed Nina Turner) or Laverne Gore (R) will hold the 11th district seat (with Brown expected to win) and if State Reps. Allison Russo (D) or Mike Carey (R) (who has former President Trump’s endorsement and beat a dozen candidates, many more moderate Republicans) will hold the 15th district seat (with Carey expected to win).

In other election news, the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is made up of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State and four representatives from the Ohio House and Senate, will hold 10 regional public hearings around the state as they prepare to draw new legislative and congressional district maps that go into effect with the 2022 election.

More details can be found here.

Last updated on:
July 21, 2021

OVERVIEW

Given just hours to review after Statehouse passage, Governor DeWine signed his second State Operating Budget on July 1, 2021. Final debates and negotiations of the two-year budget focused heavily on funding for broadband expansion, the school funding formula, and tax cuts. The final law includes earmarks as well as 14 vetoes. The legislature is in recess throughout July and August and will return after Labor Day. See updates below on the budget, tax credits, health and aerospace.

STATE BUDGET AND FUNDING

FY22-23 Operating Budget Overview

Given just hours to review after Statehouse passage, Governor DeWine signed his second State Operating Budget on July 1, 2021. Final debates and negotiations of the two-year budget focused heavily on funding for broadband expansion, the school funding formula, and tax cuts. The final law includes earmarks as well as 14 vetoes. The legislature is in recess throughout July and August and will return after Labor Day. See updates below on the budget, tax credits, health and aerospace.

Governor DeWine vetoed 14 items, which is a relatively low number. Most of the vetoes did not address the more controversial provisions of the budget. Among the vetoes was the removal of Medicaid rates from the Revised Code. However, the increased rates for the PASSPORT, Ohio Home Care, adult day care, MyCare Ohio, assisted living waiver program for specified services and waiver programs administered by Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) will be implemented.

Another more controversial provision in the budget, removed at the request of Attorney General Dave Yost, would have permitted members of the General Assembly to intervene in lawsuits undertaken by the Executive Branch. Governor DeWine also vetoed a provision that vacates orders addressing the compliance of liquor-permitted businesses with COVID-19 health orders, ends disciplinary actions, and refunds fines stating it sends the message that those responsible business owners are not valued as much as the few businesses who failed to take steps to protect their employees and customers.

Budget Breakdown

  • School Funding — The final version of the budget bill largely incorporates a House education plan that was designed to significantly boost funding and make Ohio’s system of funding schools fairer by targeting poorer areas. However, it does compromise by incorporating Senate changes that boost vouchers for private schools. The new school funding formula ends the existing system of artificially funding and capping funding for certain districts. The result is a $226 million increase for K-12 education in 2022, and another $141 million increase in 2023.
  • Taxes — The budget reduces the number of state income-tax brackets to four by eliminating the state’s top tax bracket. Six years ago, Ohio had nine brackets. It also makes changes to the tax rate of the state’s new highest tax bracket, applicable to people making more than $110,650 in 2021 to 3.99%. Additionally, the minimum amount Ohioans must earn before owing state income taxes was raised from $22,150 to $25,000.
  • Broadband — The bill provides $250 million to expand broadband networks in underserved areas, which was the amount proposed in DeWine’s Executive Budget. The House initially proposed $190 million, and the Senate removed the grant funding altogether. The budget conference committee removed a Senate proposal that would have effectively banned municipalities from operating their own broadband programs. Broadband expansion is a priority for G2G and we are monitoring the implementation of affordable broadband access closely. (This funding is in addition to the $20 million broadband bill enacted on May 17, but this funding is far below the estimated $2.3 billion needed to cover the state's under serviced areas.)
  • SNAP — The final budget bill eliminates controversial language that was included in the Senate version of the bill. It would have required asset tests for food stamp recipients and cut off SNAP benefits for households with $2,250 or more in savings. It also would have required recipients to report every change in income worth more than $500, such as extra work shifts or getting odd jobs.

Other Provisions:

  • Would allow college athletes to seek endorsements and otherwise profit off their name, image and likeness.
  • Creates Juneteenth as a state holiday in Ohio on June 19, in response to President Joe Biden making the day a federal holiday this year.
  • Specifies that personal information about people who have applied to participate in DeWine’s Vax-A-Million sweepstakes is not a public record.
  • Allows employers to discipline or fire workers who use medical marijuana in violation of workplace policy without violating the Ohio Civil Rights Law.
  • Offers Lorain, East Cleveland, and Youngstown city schools a way to no longer be under the control of a state “academic distress commission.”
  • Prohibits the Ohio secretary of state and other elections officials from accepting money from private groups such as Facebook, which offered state and local elections officials millions in grant money during last year’s election.

More On Tax Changes in The Budget

The state operating budget made numerous additions or changes to the lineup of tax expenditures. Among them are the following:

  • Increasing from $1 million to $2 million the limit on opportunity zone investment tax credits awarded to an individual during a biennium.
  • Creating a new income tax deduction for capital gains received by investors in certain Ohio-based venture capital operating companies, which must have at least $50 million in assets and at least two-thirds of its managing and general partners be Ohioans. This provision should result in more venture capital formation in the state which would be a huge win for industries like biosciences. If you would like more information on this tax deduction, please let G2G know.
  • Creating a $250 income tax credit for home schooling materials and a $750 credit for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to K-12 students and prioritize awards to low-income students.
  • Creating a tax credit for private school tuition of $500 for households earning below $50,000 and $1,000 for households earning below $100,000.
  • Allowing any business receiving the job creation tax credit to include work-from-home employees in payroll reporting, rather than just businesses applying for the credit after September of 2017.
  • Making permanent the temporary exemption from the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) for BWC dividends.
  • Creating new tax incentives for “mega projects” involving more than $1 billion in investment and creation of more than $75M in payroll.
  • Extending the life of the existing insurance premium tax credit for “transformational mixed-use development” projects through FY25

Bureau of Worker’s Compensation

The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation has its own $2.2 billion appropriations bill which this year includes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for townships, water/sewer infrastructure and pediatric behavioral health services. Additionally, with the passage of HB168 the state of Ohio can officially begin using ARPA funds to repay the approximately $1.5 billion it borrowed from the federal government to cover unemployment compensation costs during the pandemic. HB168 also:

  • Invests $250 million to establish a water and sewer quality program administered by the Ohio Department of Development. The program will provide grants to identify and invest in Ohio's most critical infrastructure needs.
  • Sends $422 million to townships, which did not receive direct funding from ARPA to support pandemic recovery efforts. G2G is watching ARPA funding for Ohio’s major cities and counties as they decide how to appropriate such funds as well as township funding that may be available to nonprofits or other entities.
  • Invests $84 million in a pediatric behavioral health initiative administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funding aims to increase Ohio's capacity for youth behavioral health services and improve quality of care across all regions of the state.

OHIO LEGISLATURE UPDATES

Crawley Selected for Open Franklin County Commission Seat

Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) was selected to fill a vacant seat on the Franklin County Commission, but when she will take the seat is unknown. Crawley defeated Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown by a 63-54 vote of the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee. The seat became available when long-time commissioner Marilyn Brown resigned her seat after 14 years for family reasons. Crawley is in her second term in the Ohio House. She is currently the Ranking Member on the House Finance Committee. It is unknown when her replacement will be appointed.

Householder Expelled

The House voted 75-21 to expel former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), determining his actions in the scandal around HB6, the nuclear energy bail out, amounted to “disorderly conduct” warranting removal under constitutional procedures. Householder argued the move was in fact unconstitutional and disrespectful to the voters who re-elected him knowing of the charges. Supporters of the expulsion resolution said Householder’s conduct in developing and moving the controversial energy law was unethical and stained the reputation of the chamber. It was the first time that an Ohio lawmaker had been expelled since 1857, when Representative John P. Slough was removed for punching another member of the Legislature. House Republicans picked Ohio State Highway Patrol staff Lt. Kevin Miller to replace Householder. Miller, of Franklin Township in southeastern Licking County, was selected from among 19 applicants, including Householder's son, Perry County Commissioner Derek Householder. Miller was sworn to represent the 72nd House District, which includes Coshocton County, Perry County and portions of Licking County.

HEALTH

Nursing Facility Constitutional Amendment

Attorney General Dave Yost certified a revised petition for a proposed constitutional amendment known as the "Nursing Facility Patients' Bill of Rights." Also known as Carolyn's Law, the proposal would require the Ohio Department of Health to establish a number of regulations regarding health facilities, including requirements setting a minimum of nurses/certified nursing assistant staff ratio to patients at nursing, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation facilities.

The amendment would also set an average number of hours of direct care by nursing and nursing assistant staff to patients. It would require the imposition of civil and criminal penalties for facilities, employees, or agents of nursing facilities for noncompliance with the amendment and related laws, including fines, additional education or training, temporary or permanent suspension of a license or certification, termination from employment, and reporting of the conduct to regulatory entities and law enforcement.

The petition will now head to the Ohio Ballot Board, which must determine if it contains a single or multiple laws. If certified by the board, backers of the proposed amendment would need to collect 442,958 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters for the issue to go on the ballot.

INNOVATION & BUSINESS

Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC)

Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport) is seeking removal of a requirement that the position of chair of OAATC rotate between the House and Senate at the start of a new general assembly so he can return to being chair. Holmes became chair in 2020, succeeding Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) a year before he was term-limited at the end of the 133rd General Assembly.

Commissions and committees, like the new House Technology and Innovation standing committee, are working collaboratively to build a true Ohio strategy on aerospace. JobsOhio has grown in regard to Ohio’s aerospace industry and its military and federal installations, and the state operating budget added funding for airport infrastructure in addition to federal pandemic relief. Rep. Holmes is working to ensure the federal money is distributed to support Ohio’s general and commercial aviation industry and Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) operations.

The committee is interested is ensuring Ohio secures a lead role in the development of advanced air mobility technology. The state already benefits from work being done in the Springfield area on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) also known as drones, particularly beyond-line-of-sight testing. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has emerged as a governmental center of excellence on drone technology through its FlyOhio initiative, which operates the Springfield UAS Center. Meanwhile in northeast Ohio, the Aerozone Alliance is taken on greater drone and aerospace activities tied to the Hopkins airport renovation efforts.

The next step will be establishing an air traffic management system for UAS flight in Ohio and building the required infrastructure to support it. Reps. Holmes and Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) are working on legislation for this. The air traffic management system is one of the most critical areas to address, and so the forthcoming bill on that subject is one of the biggest targets for the OAATC. In addition to passenger transport UAS technology will also be used for mail delivery and photography. Other members of the OAATC include Reps. Mike Loychik (R-Cortland) and Jessica Miranda (D-Cincinnati) and Sens. Bob Hackett (R-London), Frank Hoagland (R-Adena) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).

Last updated on:
May 20, 2021

OVERVIEW

G2G has read through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)and how funding is being disseminated to the states. We also delved into what is happening in Ohio and the local funding that will go to cities and counties from the ARPA. We wanted to share some of those findings with you. Below is a rundown of major cities and counties in Ohio and the funding they will receive as well as any proposed uses of the ARPA funding. Following that break down, you will find requirements for use of allocated funds, status of funding disbursement, and timeline for spending. Should you have any questions about this information or accessing ARPA funding, please do not hesitate to reach out to the G2G team.

CLEVELAND

Cleveland will receive $511M and Cuyahoga County will $239M in ARPA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • ~$80 million to replace revenue lost by the city due to pandemic
  • Other proposed spending, but without affixed amounts, include stabilizing the city budget, helping businesses, supporting neighborhood development efforts and expanding internet access.

Status

  • City Council has approved legislation to allow Cleveland to accept federal funds. However, further approval from the City Council will be needed before the administration can spend the money. Discussions of detailed appropriations began in early May.

CINCINNATI

Cincinnati will receive $279M and Hamilton County will receive $158M in ARPA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • $107M will be directed toward reducing the budget deficit
  • $5.5M for childcare
  • $2.5M to Port Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Money will also be set aside for the city General Fund

Status

  • Cincinnati City Council has held many hearings on appropriation of funding which will likely be decided before the end of May.

COLUMBUS

Columbus will receive $187M and Franklin County will receive $255M in ARPA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • Increase access to vaccination for all residents – including minorities and underserved populations
  • Fund employment and summer youth programming, assistance to families in need and employers
  • Food and housing support
  • Help small and minority businesses
  • Support nonprofit community and anchor institutions needed to sustain a recovery

Status

  • There have not been concrete decisions on appropriations at this time.

TOLEDO

Toledo will receive $181M and Lucas County will receive $83M in APRA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • $53M for budget stabilization and rainy-day fund maintenance
  • $30M for safe neighborhoods
  • $30M for job creation, site clean-up and redevelopment
  • $30M green and healthy housing & housing preservation
  • $30M for youth, recreation, and parks
  • $15M for employee health & wellbeing
  • $1.4M for youth summer camps

Status

  • The Toledo Recovery Committee will review and evaluate projects as part of the Toledo Recovery Plan. They will also review applications for projects during the summer to be submitted for approval to city council in August.

Akron

Akron will receive $145M and Summit County will receive $105M in ARPA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • $30M for parks and public facilities
  • $29M in City IT and budget stabilization, $25M to be kept in cash reserve
  • $25M for housing
  • $25M for utility support including improvements replacement of lead pipes
  • $24M for local economic recovery
  • $20M for community and youth violence prevention

Status

  • Exact allocations are still subject to approval.

DAYTON

Dayton will receive $137M and Montgomery County will receive $103M in ARPA funding.

Proposed Spending

  • Mayor Whaley plans to reinstate the local police and fire academies, which were expected to be canceled in 2021 due to budget shortfalls.
  • The city of Dayton will use some of its federal coronavirus relief money to provide many employees with a one-time $2,000 payment.
  • The city is also eyeing revitalization projects for neighborhoods hardest hit economically by the pandemic.

Status

  • Mayor Brown is planning a strategic planning session toward the end of May with City Council and  members of the administration and community to get input on how to best utilize the funds.

Use of Funds

Appropriate use of funds includes:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
  • Direct COVID-19 containment, testing, vaccination, mitigation, medical care and supplies, quarantine facilities, public health surveillance health communication and enforcement in hospitals, clinics, schools, clinics
  • Replace lost revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic
  • Capital investments in facilities to achieve the above
  • Revenue loss is an eligible use for allocated funds as per guidelines
  • Water, sewer, broadband expenditures

NONPROFIT ELIGIBILITY

Funding to entities (including nonprofits) whose activities fall under the ‘eligible uses’ of allocated money is permitted.

  • Exact rules, criteria and timeline for awarding funds to nonprofits and other potential recipients at local level appears subject to priorities of local authorities
  • Certain communities are conducting participatory budgeting to ensure equitable distribution of funds to businesses and nonprofits

TIMELINE

  • For most eligible jurisdictions, half of their allocated amount will be distributed in May 2021, the remainder in May 2022.
  • Certain jurisdictions with higher unemployment than the national average may see entirety of allocated funds disbursed earlier.
  • All funds must be spent by end of 2024.