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Ohio Statehouse Update: Week in Review — May 11, 2012


1. House hears workforce development bills

The House Economic & Small Business Development Committee heard testimony on a number of recently introduced workforce development bills this week. House Bill 539 makes changes to the composition and responsibilities of the State Workforce Policy Board and the One-stop System of workforce development. The bill sponsors, Representatives Tim Derickson (R- Oxford) and Andy Thompson (R- Marietta), said the bill would promote greater alignment of workforce development programs and increase access for both employers and job seekers to obtain the training they need. 

The bill allows the Board to:

  • Coordinate state workforce development activities,
  • Designate local workforce investment areas,
  • Develop a unified budget for state and federal workforce funds,
  • Establish performance measures,
  • Develop a statewide workforce development plan, and
  • Prepare the annual report to the U.S. Secretary of Labor as required by WIA.

The sponsors said the bill was necessary because the state currently has 77 workforce development programs across 13 state agencies, adding that many programs have evolved without the benefit of a vision or a mission for the state. The bill intends to give the Board statutory authority to review and change the system as a whole.

The House committee also heard testimony on House Bill 538, sponsored by Representatives Al Landis (R- Dover) and Tony DeVitis (R- Cuyahoga Falls). The bill establishes the “Learn to Earn” program which would allow unemployed workers to continue receiving unemployment benefits while undergoing on-the-job training from prospective employers. The sponsors said the program is modeled after a similar program in Georgia titled, Georgia Works, which was created in 2003. According to Representative Landis’ testimony, more than 20,000 participants have completed training programs with more than 15,000 employers.

2. MBR updates

This week the Senate Finance Committee continued its marathon hearings for House Bill 487, the general mid-biennium review (MBR) bill offered by Governor John Kasich. The committee met and heard testimony three times in an effort to expedite passage of the legislation prior to summer recess. Amendments to the bill will likely be accepted in committee next week.

Senate Bill 316, the education and workforce development portion of the Governor’s MBR, passed the Senate on May 9, 2012. Citing the tight time frame the chamber had for consideration of the proposal, Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering) said the bill was amended to establish a task force to make legislative recommendations for the 2012-2013 school year for a new rating and report card system that must use letter grades of A to F. Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Education to provide each school advanced notice, by January 31, 2013, of what its score would be under the new rating system.

The Senate also amended the bill to provide $13 million from excess lottery profits to make competitive grants to schools to support reading intervention efforts that assist students in meeting the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The Senate changed the reading guarantee to generally prohibit school districts and community schools from promoting to the fourth grade a student scoring in the “limited” range on the third grade reading achievement assessment with several exceptions. The Governor wants to raise the “cut” score by applying the retention provisions to students who do not receive at least a “proficient” score on the third grade reading achievement assessment.

The Governor’s energy MBR legislation, Senate Bill 315 did not receive a vote that was previously expected in the Senate Energy Committee this week due to continuing disagreements with industry on hydraulic fracturing regulations included in the bill. The bill is expected to be amended and voted out of committee and the full Senate on May 15, 2012.

3. Bills to watch

Pension reform legislation was introduced in the Ohio Senate this week by President Tom Niehaus (R- New Richmond) and Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D- Cincinnati):

  • Senate Bill 340 makes changes to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund
  • Senate Bill 341 makes changes to the School Employees Retirement System
  • Senate Bill 342 makes changes to the State Teachers Retirement System
  • Senate Bill 343 makes changes to the Public Employees Retirement System

These bills are currently in the Senate Insurance Committee and are scheduled for second consideration on May 15, 2012. They appear to be on the fast track and could receive approval prior to the legislative summer recess.

House Bill 542 was introduced by Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl (R- Mt. Vernon) this week. The bill would require the licensure and regulation of providers of debt settlement services. HB 542 is scheduled for its first hearing in the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee on May 15, 2012.

4. Legislation approved this week

The Ohio Senate met on May 8 and 9 and approved the following bills:

House Bill 383: Sponsored by former Representative Lynn Slaby (R- Copley Twp.), the bill makes changes relative to residential construction and the Consumer Sales Practices Act and establishes laws governing the practices of home construction service suppliers.

House Bill 386: Sponsored by Representative Lou Blessing (R- Cincinnati), the bill makes changes to the law regarding video lottery terminals, casino gaming, bingo and instant bingo and horse racing, and establishes a moratorium on new establishments conducting sweepstakes by sweepstakes terminal devices. The House did not agree to Senate changes to the bill and it will go to Conference Committee for further consideration.

Senate Bill 316: Sponsored by request of Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering), the bill revises authorizations and conditions with respect to education, workforce development and early childhood care and revises the law governing type B family day-care homes.

The Ohio House met on May 8 and approved the following bills:

Senate Bill 295: Sponsored by Senator Bill Coley (R- Middletown), the bill repeals the provisions of Am. Sub. H.B. 194 of the 129th General Assembly relating to election law, which has not taken effect because it is pending a referendum vote on November 6, 2012.

House Bill 379: Sponsored by Representative Lou Blessing (R- Cincinnati), the bill permits water-works and sewage disposal system companies to make certain rate-calculation adjustments and make changes regarding water and sewer infrastructure improvement surcharges. The bill also alters language regarding utility requirements for when rate increases may take effect in the absence of administrative action.

House Bill 521: Sponsored by Representative Mike Dovilla (R- Berea), the bill increases the maximum total amount of tax credits allowed per year for completion of motion pictures certified as tax credit-eligible productions.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Caputo
(non-attorney professional)

Rebecca M. Kuhns
(non-attorney professional)

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