Legislative Updates: News from the State House – March 2018

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

Wayne Lawrence, Weiss Movers

Commenting that, “We know the person that will live to be 125 has already been born,” AARP State Director Barbara Sykes opened her organization’s presentation Wednesday to the House Aging and Long Term Care Committee. Referencing Ohio’s aging population, she and AARP’s Vice President of State Advocacy and Strategy Elaine Ryan discussed some proposals they said can help the state to shift its focus to help its citizens not age, but live.

Steve Wagner of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (UHCAN) was the sole witness Wednesday to weigh in at a public hearing on the state’s request to waive the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that everyone obtain health care coverage. This hearing was one of two scheduled for the Ohio Department of Insurance’s (ODI) waiver request, which the agency was required to submit per the state budget, HB49 (R. Smith). Wagner said ODI fails to meet a basic requirement for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant a 1332 waiver — demonstrating that comparable numbers of people will be covered with the wavier versus without.

Total community project funding of $147 million represents between 5 percent and 6 percent of the total capital budget appropriations proposed in SB266 (Oelslager) and HB529 (Ryan). Among Ohio’s three largest counties, Cuyahoga County stands out for the number of community projects, though its share of funding is not significantly higher than those for Franklin and Hamilton counties.

The committee approved HB529 (Ryan) unanimously at its Tuesday hearing with no changes. The Senate version, SB266 (Oelslager), also was up for a hearing Tuesday, but the House measure is expected to be the primary vehicle. It was passed by the full House on Wednesday.

The Buckeye Institute released its report on the “Top 10 Worst Capital Budget Requests of 2018”, which total more than $18 million in spending. The institute also said its review of the capital budget found more than $85 million in pork barrel or highly localized projects “that should be paid for with private donations or through local efforts.”

Ohio’s revenues continue running above estimates for the year-to-date by over $200 million, but February revenues came in nearly $20 million below estimates. A total of nearly $1.6 billion was collected in February — $10.6 million more than was collected in February 2017. The total so far for FY18 is nearly $14.7 billion, nearly $222 million more than had been collected at this time last year.

President Donald Trump officially imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, earning praise from Ohio’s top Democrat, disapproval from the state’s top Republican and a more middle-of-the-road response from Ohio’s Republican junior U.S. Senator.

Ohio’s casino revenues were up month-to-month in February while also slightly exceeding statewide totals from the same time last year, and racino revenues remain up as well. The Ohio Casino Control Commission reported the state’s four casinos earned $67.6 million in February, up from $67.2 million in February 2017 and $63 million in January 2018.

Companies that have received provisional licenses to grow medical marijuana in Ohio have formed a nonprofit trade association. The Ohio Medical Marijuana License Holder Coalition (OMMLHC) will be composed exclusively of members that have been awarded licenses by the state of Ohio, according to the group.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has announced that Kevin Boehner has joined its governmental affairs staff as the director of small business and workforce policy. Boehner, a native of West Chester and graduate of Ohio State University, previously worked as a legislative aide in the Ohio House for Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton). He was also a campaign manager for the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee.

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) announced that Tracy Najera has been selected as the organization’s new executive director.

Both President Donald Trump’s administration and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine weighed in this week in favor of overturning court precedent that bars states from collecting sales taxes for online purchases. The U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, as did a coalition of 41 states, led by Colorado and joined by DeWine on Ohio’s behalf. The case is an attempt at overturning the Supreme Court’s previous ruling in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which found online sales tax to be Congress’ responsibility to regulate as a matter of interstate commerce, and held states cannot require collection of sales taxes for businesses that do not have a physical presence in the state.

About Wayne Lawrence

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