Legislative Updates: News from the State House – April 2018

Legislative Updates: News from the State House – April 2018
Wayne Lawrence

Wayne Lawrence, Weiss Movers

FY18-19 BUDGET
Tax revenues were 2 percent ahead of estimates in March after stronger sales tax collections outstripped a shortfall in income tax collections, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Office of Budget and Management.

ENVIRONMENT
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) has put forward a wide-ranging legislative proposal seeking to address Lake Erie phosphorous, economic development, regulatory reform and other environmental protection issues. The agency has identified Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) as a potential sponsor. He said details of what he’ll introduce are still under discussion, and that his legislation will not mirror exactly the EPA’s draft plan.

GAMING/GAMBLING
One of Ohio’s seven racetracks is being sold after MGM Growth Properties LLC (MGP) announced it has agreed to purchase the Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park for $1.06 billion from Milstein Entertainment LLC.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Advocates for Ohio’s elder care and health system communities expressed both their aspirations and hesitations about potentially expanding long-term services into Medicaid managed care at the second meeting of the Legislature’s Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Study Committee. Co-chairs Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) and Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R-Mansfield) invited non-state agency members to share their perspectives on the current barriers to improving health care quality and outcomes in long term services, the best practices they’ve identified that promote consumer choice, redundancies in state rules and regulations, and the challenges of managed care contract terms and conditions.

Medicaid Director Barbara Sears outlined in detail plans this week to look into accusations of anti-competitive pricing by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMS).

INSURANCE
Starting Tuesday, April 3, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) is hosting dozens of meetings and seminars across the state to help senior citizens preparing to enroll in the federal Medicare program get information and assistance. A complete list of events and webcasts is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov/Consumer/OSHIIP/SitePages/WelcomeToMedicare.aspx.

Public feedback was mixed on Ohio’s plan to ask the federal government for an exemption from the individual insurance mandate, the state’s application for the exemption shows. ODI submitted the application for a 1332 state innovation waiver Friday following a public comment period.

ODI is the latest state agency looking to address drug prices and the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) in driving them. The department issued rules Wednesday it says will provide “heightened protections for Ohio consumers related to prescription drug prices.”

MARIJUANA
A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program has been put on hold for a month, according to a staff attorney with Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Schneider’s office.

The Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) is on track to be “fully operational” by the legal deadline but will be “limited,” new program coordinator Mark Hamlin and other agency leaders told the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee (MMAC) on Thursday.

PUBLIC SAFETY
More than 500 agencies — employing 82 percent of Ohio’s law enforcement officers — are in the process of implementing Ohio’s statewide police standards, according to a report issued by the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (ODPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS).

TAXATION
Ohio is seventh-highest among state in terms of benefits of 2017 tax reform, a report by personal finance site WalletHub found, though middle- and high-income families in Ohio were listed as receiving a much greater share of the effects.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reports that more consumers are reporting tax scams ahead Tax Day, Tuesday, April 17. In March, the AG Help Center logged more than 340 reports of tax scams, compared to about 160 in January and 280 in February.

TRANSPORTATION/INFRASTRUCTURE
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) plans to spend $2.35 billion on nearly 1,000 construction projects in 2018, aiming to preserve existing roads and bridges, enhance capacity and improve safety. “Roads and bridges don’t get better over time. That’s why 90 cents of every dollar we’re investing this year is to take care of what we have,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a news release. “We’re using better data and more frequent maintenance to address the small issues with our infrastructure before they become big issues.”

UTILITIES
Affiliates of FirstEnergy in charge of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants, as well as coal plants and other generating facilities, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the weekend, days after announcing intentions to shut down the nuclear plants within three years. The filing covers FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) and subsidiaries.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) launched an official proceeding Wednesday to monitor FirstEnergy Solutions’ (FES) pending bankruptcy. The development follows FES’s filing for Chapter 11 reorganization last weekend.

About Wayne Lawrence

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