Hearings underway for governor's MBR
Speaker Bill Batchelder (R- Medina) this week announced his caucus had separated the governor’s Mid Biennium Review (MBR) (Ohio Statehouse Update -- March 14, 2014) into 14 different bills that have been assigned to 11 different committees.
“Governor Kasich presented the House with a comprehensive, policy-rich mid-biennial review that accomplishes a number of goals, from tax reform to veterans issues,” said Batchelder. “This approach ensures that each component of the MBR will receive the time and attention it deserves from individuals with experience on the topic,” he added.
Below are the components of the MBR and the committees they have been assigned to:
House Bill 369: Sponsored by Rep. Robert Sprague (R- Findlay), the bill includes various mental health/drug addiction components. The bill will be considered in the Finance and Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 375: Sponsored by Rep. Matt Huffman (R- Lima), the bill increases the state severance tax. Introduced in December 2013, Batchelder said his caucus decided to continue to use this bill as the vehicle for changes to the state severance tax because his chamber has already given the measure substantial attention in the Ways and Means Committee.
House Bill 472: Sponsored by Rep. Jeff McClain (R- Upper Sandusky), the bill includes the tax reform portions of the Governor’s proposal. Among the items included are increases to the tobacco and Commercial Activities Taxes. The bill has been assigned for a hearing on March 25 in the Ways and Means Committee.
House Bill 483: Sponsored by Rep. Ron Amstutz (R- Wooster), the bill includes appropriation changes and general policy changes. The bill will be considered on March 26 in the Finance and Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 484: Sponsored by Reps. Cliff Rosenberger (R- Clarksville) and Tim Brown (R- Bowling Green), the bill includes higher education reform and will be considered in the Finance and Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on March 25.
House Bill 485: Sponsored by Reps. Ryan Smith (R- Gallipolis) and Terry Johnson (R- McDermott), the bill creates the Office of Human Services Innovation within the Department of Jobs and Family Services. The office will be tasked with breaking down silos within government to provide assistance to recipients in a holistic manner by examining ways to better coordinate services, remove disincentives to work within current programs and standardize the eligibility policies across programs. The bill will be considered in the Health and Aging Committee.
House Bill 486: Sponsored by Reps. Nan Baker (R- Westlake) and Gerald Stebelton (R- Lancaster), the bill includes various workforce development reforms. The bill will be considered on March 25 in the Economic Development and Regulatory Reform Committee.
House Bill 487: Sponsored by Rep. Andrew Brenner (R- Powell), the bill includes changes to the state’s education policies. The bill includes provisions seeking to reduce the state dropout rate and provides new solutions for the one million Ohio adults who never finished high school to work with two-year colleges and earn their diplomas. The bill will receive consideration on March 27 in the Education Committee.
House Bill 488: Sponsored by Reps. Mike Dovilla (R- Berea) and Al Landis (R- Dover), the bill deals with veterans issues. It will receive consideration on March 26 in the Veterans Affairs Committee.
House Bill 489: Sponsored by Rep. Terry Blair (R- Washington Twp.), the bill makes changes to lease-leaseback provisions in Ohio law. The bill will receive consideration in the State and Local Government Committee.
House Bill 490: Sponsored by Reps. Dave Hall (R- Millersburg) and Andy Thompson (R- Marietta), the bill includes various environmental reforms. Many of the provisions included affect the state’s Oil and Gas Law. The bill will receive consideration in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
House Bill 491: Sponsored by Reps. Jim Buchy (R- Greenville) and Lou Blessing (R- Cincinnati), the bill deals with Ohio’s gambling law. The bill will be considered on March 25 in the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.
House Bill 492: Sponsored by Rep. Gary Scherer (R- Circleville), the bill includes tax corrective changes. HB 492 has been scheduled for a hearing on March 25 in the Ways and Means Committee.
House Bill 493: Sponsored by Reps. Barbara Sears (R- Sylvania) and Mike Henne (R- Clayton), the bill includes workers’ compensation reforms. The bill has been scheduled for a hearing on March 25 in the Insurance Committe.
Capital appropriations bill introduced
House Bill 497, highly anticipated legislation that includes funding for state and local capital projects, was introduced this week in the House. The capital bill makes appropriations totaling $2.39 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal years for the repair, renovation, reconstruction, and construction of capital assets of state agencies, colleges, universities, and school districts. For the first time in six years, the bill also includes funding for local community projects.
HB 497 reflects the jockeying of the governor and the legislature in divvying up roughly $135 million for local projects across the state. The bill received two hearings this week in the House Finance Committee and is scheduled for an additional hearing and possible vote on March 25.
The legislation also includes $100 million for the Clean Ohio Program, which is the maximum biennial amount authorized by the constitution. Of this amount, $75 million is provided for the Public Works Commission’s Green Space Conservation Program to fund the preservation of open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Clean Ohio Trails Fund and the Department of Agriculture’s Easement Purchase Program are each provided $12.5 million.
While testifying on the measure this week, Office of Budget and Management Director Tim Keen said that Ohio’s park system is showing its age, as recreational facilities built in the 1950s and 1960s are past due for long-delayed repairs and renovation. HB 497 appropriates $236.4 million to fund repairs and improvements at Ohio’s state parks, forests and other ODNR properties across the state and local park projects.
Also included in the capital budget bill is $130 million for Ohio’s prisons. Keen said the increase is necessary because prisons constructed 30 years ago are entering a phase that will require more intensive renovations. He cited roof replacements, new HVAC units, plumbing, and electric updates as examples of needed upgrades.
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