1. General MBR clears legislature
House Bill 487, the main component of Governor John Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (MBR), received final approval this week. Both legislative chambers accepted the joint House-Senate conference committee report, which included a majority of the Senate provisions in the bill. The governor said the legislation is the result of a comprehensive review of the enacted state budget, state policy programs and agency operations.
The policy-heavy bill includes $42 million in “green projects” for the Clean Ohio Program and $15 million for the Clean Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program. An appropriation of $13 million was added to support Governor Kasich’s third grade reading guarantee. Additionally, $3 million is included in the bill for the Healthy Lake Erie Fund to reduce algae blooms on Lake Erie as well as inland lakes and streams.
The following are among the provisions included the bill:
- Creates the Aging in Place Pilot Program, a pilot program for 180 households in southwest Ohio to receive health services and home repairs in an attempt to allow more elderly people to stay at home longer.
- Requires the Department of Administrative Services to adopt rules to ensure energy efficiency and conservation is considered in the purchase of products and equipment, except motor vehicles, by any state agency or institution.
- Directs the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services to create a pilot project in Franklin and Scioto counties for the use of a non-addictive opiate treatment with the voluntary cooperation of individuals in the criminal justice system. The bill also creates a pilot project in Gallia and other southern Ohio counties to establish the Biometric Enrollment and Verification System in order to reduce drug diversion and doctor shopping.
- Requires a state agency, as part of a request to the Controlling Board, to approve the making of a purchase to:
- Provide certain information about any proposed supplier that is not headquartered in Ohio or any supplier, subcontractor or entity intended to be used by the supplier.
- Contact each Ohio entity the agency approached to fulfill a purchase, or to whom the agency sent a request for proposals but did not respond, and ascertain why the entity did not respond.
2. Energy MBR bill passes
Senate Bill 315, the energy component of Governor John Kasich’s MBR, received final legislative approval yesterday. The bill addresses regulatory oversight for hydraulic fracturing and makes changes to the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements. The governor marketed the bill as establishing a comprehensive energy policy for Ohio.
“This legislation makes important improvements to how we approach an energy sector that is increasing exponentially in Ohio,” said Representative Peter Stautberg (R- Anderson Twp.), chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee. “Because of the reasonable reforms that the bill puts in place to regulate the extraction of energy resources and benefit Ohio consumers, our citizens and businesses will have increased access to more affordable energy.”
Prior to its passage, the bill was amended in the House Public Utilities Committee. Included in an omnibus amendment were provisions to:
- Expand the types of construction certificate applications for which the bill allows the Power Siting Board to provide accelerated reviews, to include an electric transmission line that is primarily needed to attract the requirements of a specific customer and a rebuilding of an existing transmission line.
- Repeal a requirement that a renewable energy resource primarily generate off peak in order for a storage facility to be considered a renewable energy resource.
- Add to the definition of advanced energy resource within the competitive retail electric service law any refueled generating facility located in Ohio.
- Remove the requirement that each operator and pipeline company file a disclosure with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio specifying the country in which each tubular steel product used in exploration, gathering or transmission of gas or hazardous liquid was manufactured. This provision is now included in House Bill 559.
- Grant the State Fire Marshall and the Board of Building Standards exclusive authority to adopt fire safety standards relating to construction at a shale oil processing premise of any structure subject to the Nonresidential Building Code.
The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
3. Gaming legislation receives final approval
After days of stalemate between the House and Senate conference committee members, a compromise was reached yesterday on gaming legislation. House Bill 386 makes revisions to Ohio’s gaming laws related to casinos, the state lottery, video lottery terminals, horse racing, and gambling.
“House Bill 386 enacts important and comprehensive changes to Ohio’s gaming and casino laws,” said Representative Lou Blessing (R- Cincinnati), who sponsored the legislation. “After much discussion in conference committee, we decided to move forward with the Senate-passed version of the legislation, and I believe that this legislation will greatly benefit Ohioans and our communities.”
Provisions included in House Bill 386:
- Moratorium on new Internet sweepstakes parlors until June 30, 2013 and a prohibition on existing locations from adding new screens
- Clarify the inspector general’s investigatory authority with regards to casino employees
- Provide additional funds for the VLT Lottery Sale Agents Commission for gambling addiction and other related services
- Direct $2 million from the Casino Operator Settlement Fund to communities in which a VLT racetrack is located unless that community already has a casino
- Request the governor negotiate an additional allocation to local communities after that initial disbursement
Both chambers agreed to the conference committee report in their respective chambers yesterday.
4. Legislation approved this week
The Ohio Senate met on May 22, 23 and 24 and approved the following bills:
House Bill 437: Sponsored by Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R- Napoleon), the bill will establish a program for the issuance of permits for the withdrawal and consumptive use of waters from the Lake Erie basin and to establish other requirements related to the implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.
House Bill 508: Sponsored by Representative Peter Beck (R- Mason), the bill makes various changes to tax law. It exempts from the CAT “unauthorized” insurance companies (i.e., “surplus lines”) whose gross premiums are subject to the surplus lines insurance tax. The bill also increases the maximum total amount of tax credits allowed for completion of motion pictures certified as tax credit-eligible productions from $20 million to $40 million per fiscal biennium.
Senate Bill 333: Sponsored by Senator Larry Obhof (R- Montville Township), the bill would authorize the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to issue a temporary mortgage loan originator license or temporary loan originator license to an out-of-state applicant who meets certain criteria.
Senate Bill 345: Sponsored by President Tom Niehaus (R- New Richmond), the bill makes changes to the law governing the State Highway Patrol Retirement System (SHPRS). The bill increases from three to five, the years of contributing service averaged to determine a member’s final average salary, which is used to calculate the member’s pension or disability benefit. Additionally, the bill permits the SHPRS to increase member contributions to up to 14 percent of salary, previously 10 percent, if the board’s actuary determines an increase is necessary to meet amortization requirements.
House Bill 327: Sponsored by Representative Anne Gonzales (R- Westerville), the bill makes provisions for a six-year trial period during which the Ohio Tax Credit Authority may grant a job creation tax credit to an employer on the basis of employees who work from home and whose rate of pay is at least 131 percent of the federal minimum wage.
House Bill 436: Sponsored by Representatives Cheryl Grossman (R- Grove City) and Marlene Anielski (R- Walton Hills), the bill creates the SiteOhio Certification Program within the Department of Development to certify and market eligible commercial, industrial and manufacturing sites and facilities.
Senate Bill 337: Sponsored by Senators Bill Seitz (R- Cincinnati) and Shirley Smith (D- Cleveland), the bill creates a mechanism by which an individual who is subject to a “collateral sanction” may obtain a certificate of qualification for employment that will provide relief from certain bars on employment or occupational licensing. A collateral sanction is a penalty, disability or disadvantage that is related to employment or occupational licensing as a result of the individual’s conviction of or plea of guilty to an offense and that applies by operation of law in this state whether or not the penalty, disability or disadvantage is included in the sentence or judgment.
The Ohio House met on May 22, 23 and 24 and approved the following bills:
Senate Bill 310: Sponsored by Senator Troy Balderson (R- Zanesville), the bill establishes requirements governing the possession of dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes.
Senate Bill 294: Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R- Lancaster), the bill makes various changes to environmental law. It authorizes the Director of Environmental Protection within the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program for providing compliance and pollution prevention assistance to regulated entities.
House Bill 511: Sponsored by Representatives Peter Beck (R- Mason) and Anne Gonzales (R- Westerville), the bill makes various changes to the administration of the investment tax credit and the venture capital loan loss tax credit. It increases the annual and overall limits on venture capital loan loss tax credits available to lenders to the state’s venture capital loan program that lose money, and the amount of principal and interest payments that may be paid to lenders each year.
House Bill 484: Sponsored by Representative Mike Duffey (R- Worthington), the bill creates the SharedWork Ohio Program, under which an employer who participates in the program reduces the number of hours worked by the employer’s employees in lieu of layoffs and allows an employer who wishes to participate in the program to submit a shared work plan to the Director of Job and Family Services for approval.
House Bill 524: Sponsored by Representatives Ross McGregor (R- Springfield) and Tracy Heard (R- Columbus), the bill creates a mechanism by which an individual who is subject to a “collateral sanction” may obtain a certificate of qualification for employment that will provide relief from certain bars on employment or occupational licensing.
House Resolution 305: Sponsored by Representatives Mike Dovilla (R- Berea) and John Adams (R- Sidney), the measure urges President Barack Obama to allow oil and natural gas production off the northern coast of Alaska, to grant permits for oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico on a timely basis, and to grant a presidential permit to allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
5. Bills to watch
A sampling of the bills introduced this week:
Senate Bill 349: Sponsored by Senators Nina Turner (D- Cleveland) and Charleta Tavares (D- Columbus), the bill would enact the “Fair and Acceptable Income Required (FAIR) Act.” According to the bill sponsors, the bill would require employers to substantiate pay differences—for causes other than seniority, merit, quantity or quality of employee production—with legitimate, job-related or skill-based reasons.
Senate Bill 351: Sponsored by Senator Charleta Tavares (D- Columbus), the bill would prohibit employers, employment agencies, personnel placement services, and labor organizations from requiring an applicant or employee to provide access to their private electronic accounts.
House Bill 558: Sponsored by Representative Peter Beck (R- Mason), the bill makes various changes to the administration of the New Markets Tax Credit, including the acceleration of the receipt of New Markets Tax Credit installments, allowing community development entities to make credit-eligible investments in a low-income community business that derives 15 percent or more of its annual revenue from renting or selling real estate.
House Bill 559: Sponsored by Representatives Al Landis (R- Dover) and Christina Hagan (R- Uniontown), the bill would require operators and pipeline companies to disclose the country in which tubular steel products were manufactured.
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Rebecca M. Kuhns
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