Biennial budget clears Ohio Senate
The Ohio Senate passed its version of the state’s two year spending plan this week, bringing the bill one step closer to final passage. The House is not expected to agree to Senate changes next week, sending the bill to conference committee to work through items of difference in the Executive, House, and Senate versions of the bill.
The Senate made additional changes to the bill in committee prior to reporting the bill, including the creation of a new Motor Fuel Receipts Tax (MFRT), effective July 1, 2014. The new tax was established in response to the Beaver Excavating Co. v. Testa Supreme Court opinion that the state was improperly spending Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) revenue from motor vehicle fuel sales for purposes other than public highways. The MFRT is computed on the basis of the supplier's gross receipts for the first sale of motor fuel delivered to a location in the state. It imposes a tax rate equal to .65 percent on a supplier’s gross receipts and requires that revenue arising from the tax be used for public highway purposes.
The committee also accepted an omnibus amendment, which included more than 500 pages on June 4, 2013. The following are among the changes included in the amendment:
- Increases school funding by an additional $221 million over the biennium
- Prohibits cruel treatment of companion animals
- Allows up to 25 percent of federal funds received into the Home Energy Assistance Block Grant Fund to be used for home weatherization services as determined by the Director of Development Services, instead of requiring up to 15 percent of federal funds to be used for such services
- Prohibits an ambulatory surgical facility that performs or induces abortions from having a written transfer agreement with a public hospital or entering into a contract or similar agreement with a physician who has been granted staff membership or professional privileges by the governing body of a public hospital
- Authorizes a Transportation Improvement District (TID) to enter into an agreement and undertake a project that is located wholly or partially in a contiguous county other than the county that created the TID
- Requires a joint self-insurance plan to pay the run-off expenses of a participating political subdivision that terminates its participation in the program as long as the political subdivision has accumulated funds in the reserves for incurred but not reported claims
- Authorizes the Executive Director of the Office of Health Transformation to convene a workgroup of state agency directors to study policy matters regarding telemedicine
- Eliminates the requirement that a taxpayer receive a federal New Markets tax credit in order to qualify for the state New Markets tax credit, and allows credit-eligible investments to be made in low-income community businesses that derive 15 percent or more of annual revenue from the rental or sale of real property for the purposes of the state credit
- Authorizes the Director of Medicaid, in consultation with the Director of Developmental Disabilities, to develop and implement a system under which Medicaid recipients, who are individuals with chronic health conditions and also have developmental disabilities, be provided home health services
- Specifies that an individual who is less than 21 years of age may enter a designated area of a casino where gaming is being conducted to pass to another area where gaming is not being conducted if the individual is personally escorted by licensed casino personnel
New PUCO Commissioner appointed
Governor John Kasich announced the appointment of Asim Haque to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) this week. Haque will fill a vacancy left by Kasich’s decision to appoint former Commissioner Andre Porter to lead the Department of Commerce. He will serve as a commissioner for a term beginning June 24, 2013 and ending April 10, 2016.
Haque currently resides in Springfield and serves as assistant counsel at Honda North America, Inc. He previously served as an associate at Ice Miller LLP. Haque received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Chemistry and Political Science from Case Western Reserve University in 2002, and received his Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2006.
Legislation this week
Captive Insurance Companies: Sponsored by Representative Bob Hackett (R-London), House Bill 117 will provide for the operation of captive insurance companies in Ohio. The bill passed the House on June 4, 2013.
Insurance Holding Companies: Sponsored by Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Columbus), Senate Bill 140 would make changes to the law governing insurance holding company systems. The bill would eliminate the petition requirement for domestic mutual companies that wish to merge or consolidate with another company and provide instructions for filing an own risk and solvency assessment summary report with the superintendent of insurance. The bill is scheduled for sponsor testimony in the Senate Insurance Committee on June 12, 2013.
Income Tax Filings: Sponsored by Representative John Becker (R-Union Township), House Bill 188 changes the computation of the income tax joint filer credit so the credit results in joint filers paying the same amount of combined tax on a joint return as they would on separate returns. The bill was introduced on June 4, 2013.
Prevailing Wage: Sponsored by Representative Ron Hood (R-Ashville), House Bill 190 would increase the threshold to trigger the requirement that prevailing wage be paid for work on vertical public improvement projects and allow political subdivisions and state institutions of higher education to elect whether to be subject to the Prevailing Wage Law for a public improvement project.
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