Ohio Senate puts its mark on the budget bill
This week the Senate Finance Committee accepted a substitute version of House Bill 59, the biennial budget bill. The upper chamber removed the House’s proposal to cut the state income tax by seven percent, instead opting to restore the governor’s proposal to provide small business income tax relief. The substitute bill permits taxpayers reporting business income on their personal tax return to reduce the income tax on the first $750,000 of business income by 50 percent. Pass-through entities, trusts and estates are not permitted to claim the deduction. This provision is estimated to save taxpayers who qualify $690.2 million in fiscal year 2014 and $724.6 million in fiscal year 2015.
The substitute bill reflects the inclusion of roughly 300 amendments. The following provisions are among the changes included:
- Removes the provision from the bill requiring that if a state institution of higher education issues a student a letter or utility bill to use as proof for voting purposes in Ohio, the student must be granted residency status by rule of the Chancellor of the Board of Regents for the purpose of state subsidy and tuition surcharges.
- Removes the bill's provision prohibiting the sale or purchase of a lottery ticket by telephone or by the use of computer, credit card, debit card, or facsimile.
- Allows the Administrator of Workers' Compensation, with the advice and consent of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation Board of Directors, to adopt rules with respect to the collection, maintenance and disbursements of the State Insurance Fund to provide for a system of prospective payment of workers' compensation premiums. Click here for more information.
- Restores a provision to allow up to 15 percent of Home Energy Assistance Program dollars to be used for home weatherization purposes.
- Requires an owner to file with the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management a disclosure form that specifies the country in which each oil country tubular good initially used in a production operation was manufactured unless that country cannot be determined by the owner.
- Creates an exemption for real estate broker or salesperson license applicants who hold a valid Ohio real estate appraiser license or certificate under existing law's requirement that an applicant complete classroom instruction in real estate appraisal.
- Generally requires that a pharmacy, prescriber or wholesale distributor of dangerous drugs must submit information each day that the entity conducts business to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).
- Removes a provision that requires a Medicaid managed care company to give 90 days notice before terminating a provider (unless specified differently in contract) or before making certain changes to a prescription drug formulary.
- Removes the expansion of Schedule II prescriptive authority for advanced practice nurses and physician assistants to certain residential care facilities.
- Provides that, as applied to receipts arising from motor fuel sales, the commercial activity tax (CAT) applies to only one transaction in the supply chain—either at the terminal or refinery rack or when fuel is sold that was acquired from an out-of-state unregistered seller and imported into Ohio—and that the rate of the tax on such receipts is .65 percent instead of the current CAT rate of .26 percent. Also exempts such receipts from the current prohibition against the taxpayer billing or invoicing the tax to another person.
Additional changes will be made to the bill on June 4, when the committee is expected to accept an omnibus amendment prior to voting the bill out of committee on June 5. The full Senate is scheduled to take up the bill for a vote on June 6.
House Democrats elect new leadership
House minority members elected Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D- Columbus) to serve as minority leader this week and swore in two new members to their leadership team. Former leader Armond Budish (D- Beachwood) stepped down from his leadership post to pursue the Cuyahoga County Executive position left vacant by Ed FitzGerald’s decision to run for governor in 2014.
Representative Debbie Phillips of Athens will move up the ranks from minority whip to serve as assistant minority leader. New to the team are Representatives Mike Ashford of Toledo, who was elected minority whip and Dan Ramos of Lorain, who will serve as assistant minority whip.
Legislative activity this week
Audit procedures/JobsOhio: Sponsored by Senator Bob Peterson (R- Sabina), Senate Bill 67, as introduced, creates an agreed-upon procedure audit for certain eligible political subdivisions. The bill was amended swiftly in the House Local Government Committee to include language specifying that JobsOhio revenues are not public moneys subject to audit by the Auditor of State. The language was added as a result of recent disagreements between Auditor Yost and Governor Kasich disputing Yost’s authority to audit the state’s private economic development organization. The bill passed on May 30, 2013 and now goes to Governor Kasich for his signature.
Board of Tax Appeals: Sponsored by Representatives Jeff McClain (R- Upper Sandusky) and Tom Letson (D- Warren), House Bill 138 makes changes to the law governing the Board of Tax Appeals. The bill passed the Ohio House on May 29, 2013.
The following are among the provisions included in the bill:
- Authorizes a small claims division within the board
- Requires the board to institute measures to manage certain appeals
- Provides the board authority to grant summary judgments and consider motions—vesting hearing examiners with the authority to determine credibility of witnesses and issue statements of fact and conclusions of law separately
- Authorizes the board to require parties to engage in mediation
- Authorizes the Tax Commissioner to expedite and issue a final determination for residential property value appeals with written consent of the parties
Columbus schools oversight: Sponsored by House Minority Whip Tracy Heard (D- Columbus) and House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman (R- Grove City), House Bill 167 will authorize the Columbus City Schools to levy property taxes, the revenue from which may be shared with partnering community schools. Additionally, the bill creates an independent auditor for the school district and authorizes the Columbus mayor to sponsor community schools. The bill was approved by the Ohio House on May 29, 2013.
Medicaid expansion: Sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears (R- Sylvania), House Bill 176 was formally introduced this week to expand Medicaid eligibility to childless adults with income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill requires the Medicaid program to enact additional reforms to assist enrollees in seeking additional employment opportunities.
Parenting time: Sponsored by Representative Heather Bishoff (D- Blacklick), House Bill 179 would require certain employers to allow a parent to exercise court-ordered parenting time without terminating the parent's employment, reducing the parent's pay or taking other similar action against the parent. The bill was introduced on May 28, 2013.
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Rebecca M. Kuhns
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