Legislative Updates: News from the State House -March 2019

Legislative Updates: News from the State House -March 2019
Wayne Lawrence

Wayne Lawrence, Weiss Movers

AGRICULTURE

Hemp and hemp-derived products such as cannabidiol (CBD) could be legally produced and sold in Ohio under legislation to be proposed by Sens. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Brian Hill (R-Zanesville). The bill would create an industrial hemp program administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg), Huffman told Hannah News, noting the department would be responsible for writing rules on licensing and other aspects of the program. He said licensing fees for farmers would be set by ODAg but guessed they would likely cost between $500 and $1,000 annually.

BUSINESS/CORPORATE

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) earlier this month released its non-partisan 2019-20 Public Policy Agenda, a guide that outlines the top policy priorities of its members for the next two years. According to the group, the public policy objectives support GCP’s 2018 ForwardCLE Strategic Plan and focus on the following priorities: an adaptable government and public sector; a sustainable and predictable tax and regulatory environment; and talent development and retention to advance business growth.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Economic development nonprofit JobsOhio will direct more attention to the agriculture industry under his administration, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday. “I was just talking to the new head of JobsOhio, J.P. Nauseef from Dayton, who will take over in a couple weeks, about the need to focus on agriculture in JobsOhio, particularly looking at the industry as a whole,” DeWine told attendees of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s “Ag Day at the Capital.” Nauseef was named the next president and chief investment officer of JobsOhio on Feb. 14.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration announced Monday the approval of assistance for seven projects expected to create 1,430 new jobs and retain 1,970 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $96 million and spur more than $100 million in investments across Ohio.

ENERGY

Wind turbine setbacks are not stopping another wind farm from locating in Ohio after the state approved a 125-megawatt (MW) installation Thursday in turbine-rich Paulding County, adding to EDP Renewables North America’s existing wind field there and bringing the county’s total count to more than 200 turbines. The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved the 37-tower Timber Road IV Wind Farm for 20,400 acres across five townships near the village of Payne. It expands on EDP’s existing, 55-turbine wind field in Paulding County.

FEDERAL

President Donald Trump Friday officially declared a national emergency in order to redirect funding to pay for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the use of $3.6 billion out of a fund to pay for military construction projects. Reaction from Ohio officials fell mostly along party lines.

GAMING/GAMBLING

The staff of the Ohio Casino Control Commission is preparing a package of draft rules for regulating fantasy sports in Ohio but are also eyeing other areas where the commission might have to regulate in the future. Fantasy sports games were put under the purview of the commission by the General Assembly, which also made the practice legal in Ohio. Executive Director Matt Schuler told the commission Wednesday that the commission’s legal team has been looking at other states and has put together a package of draft rules that will go to the commission at a future meeting.

 

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS

January home sales are 5.3 percent below figures from a year ago, the Ohio Association of Realtors said in its monthly sales report. Sales of 8,154 compare to 8,583 seen in January 2018. Average prices increased by 4.5 percent, from $160,501 to $167,766.

LOBBYISTS/TRADE ASSOCIATIONS

A recent survey released by the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) shows that same-store sales in the state rose 4.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018, an increase attributed to a sizable number of online orders. Food costs are increasing for operators, representing 31.3 percent of total sales, up from 30.7 percent. Labor costs remain relatively high at 28.6 percent of total sales in Q4 of 2018, up from 28.2 percent.

MARIJUANA

Two more medical marijuana dispensaries are now legally operating in Ohio, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP). The Ohio Board of Pharmacy recently awarded certificates of operation to Clubhouse Dispensary in Elyria and Buckeye Botanicals LLC in Jackson, MMCP said. There are currently eight medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Ohio.

Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries have sold $947,056 worth of cannabis since opening day, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP). Dispensaries sold 126 pounds of marijuana from Jan. 16 through Feb. 17, MMCP said.

NEWS MEDIA

The owner of the Dayton Daily News, WHIO and other Ohio media businesses is being bought by an international asset management and private equity firm for an undisclosed amount, the company announced Friday. Cox Enterprises said Apollo Global Management LLC is buying a controlling stake in Cox Media Group (CMG) and its associated radio, TV and newspaper properties. Cox Enterprises will keep a minority stake and, along with Apollo, will create a new private company to operate CMG’s stations around the country, including Ohio. In addition to the Dayton Daily News and WHIO, Cox Media Group owns WZLR of Xenia, WHKO of Dayton, the Springfield News-Sun and the Journal-News of Hamilton OH.

 

 

 

About Wayne Lawrence

Wayne Lawrence is Vice-President of Weiss Movers and Storage. Wayne is WHACC's Board Chair and on the Advocacy committee