House approves grant program for high school interns
The Ohio House approved House Bill 107 this week, legislation authorizing grants for businesses that employ high school students in career exploration internships. Sponsored by Representative Nan Baker (R-Westlake), grants would be equal to 50 percent of the wages paid to the student intern, up to a maximum grant of $5,000 per year.
“The intent is to bring high school students and businesses together to explore a mutual interest in career opportunities,” said Baker during committee testimony. “It encourages students to seek places of employment that match their career interest and businesses to employ high school students to allow them to explore those interests,” she added.
The bill appropriates $1 million in fiscal year 2015 for the program, taking the funds from upfront casino licensing fees. The application period is limited to three years from the effective date of the legislation.
Under the proposed legislation, sole proprietorships, corporations, and pass-through entities would qualify for the new program managed by the Development Services Agency. The student must be eligible to attend school in Ohio and be between 16 and 18 years of age or enrolled in grade 11 or 12.
The legislation now awaits committee referral in the Senate.
Legislator advocates for compressed natural gas incentives
Representative Jim Butler (R-Dayton) provided testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee this week urging members to favorably consider his legislation to create the Green Fleets Loan Guarantee Program which would guarantee the repayment of loans made to governmental entities and private businesses to fund the conversion of all or a portion of their fleet vehicles to run on natural gas fuel.
The program would be administered through the Development Services Agency (DSA), and the director would be permitted, on behalf of the state, to enter into contracts to guarantee the repayment of the loans. Fleets that apply for loans would be eligible for the program only if the projected difference between their current gasoline expenditures and their projected CNG costs will pay for the overall cost of conversion within a five year period.
The bill would also subject natural gas to the motor fuel tax, measured by gallon equivalents. Included is a three-year exemption from the tax for propane and compressed natural gas (CNG), and a phase-in of the full 28 cent per gallon rate over three years.
Speaking to the merits of CNG, Butler highlighted the environmental impact of increased usage of the fuel, saying it burns much cleaner than conventional gasoline. Noting the abundant natural gas reserves in Ohio, the sponsor said the state has an advantage over other states that do not possess abundant natural gas reserves because CNG is expensive to transport. Butler testified that increased usage of CNG will make Ohio a more attractive destination for businesses to locate because fuel costs have the potential to be significantly lower than in many neighboring states.
Legislation considered this week
College savings: Sponsored by Senators Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), Senate Bill 244 would increase the maximum income tax deduction for college savings contributions to $10,000 annually for each beneficiary, and create the Joint Committee on Ohio College Affordability. The bill was introduced on November 20.
JEDZ moratorium: Sponsored by Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), House Bill 358 would impose a 90-day moratorium on the authority of townships and municipal corporations to approve new joint economic development zones and new economic development district contracts devised under the nonrestricted procedures. The bill was introduced on November 20.
Recycled water: Sponsored by Senator John Eklund (R-Chardon), Senate Bill 179 includes recycled water as a private water system for purposes of regulation by the Department of Health and boards of health. The bill was approved by the Senate on November 19.
Power of attorney: Sponsored by Representative Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Representative Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus), House Bill 126 will allow a person who creates a durable power of attorney for healthcare to authorize the attorney to obtain health information about the person. Additionally, the bill establishes a presumption that a valid living will declaration revokes all prior declarations. The bill was approved by the Senate on November 20.
Balanced budget amendment: Sponsored by Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), Senate Joint Resolution 5 urges the United States Congress to propose a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. The resolution was approved by the House on November 20.
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