Ohio EPA director resigns, Butler named Interim Director
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally announced this week his resignation from the agency to pursue other opportunities. In announcing Nally’s resignation, Governor John Kasich said his energy advisor, Craig Butler would serve as interim director at the agency.
“I am grateful for Scott’s service to the state and wish him well in his next endeavor,” said Kasich. “For the past three years, Scott worked hard to keep Ohioans and our environment safe, but he also helped begin to make the agency more business-friendly.”
Currently, Butler serves as a senior policy advisor for the administration on environmental, energy, public utility, and agricultural issues, and has worked closely with the corresponding agencies. Butler previously served as District Director of both Ohio EPA’s Central District Office and its Southeast District Office. He is a board member of the Dangerous Wild Animal Board and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Ohio Alliance for the Environment.
Legislation to watch
The halls of the Statehouse are beginning to thaw as legislators and staff ramp up for what is expected to be a busy first quarter. High profile legislation including a new round of Mid Biennial Review bills and the first Capital bill to include community project funding in nearly five years are expected to be introduced in coming weeks. In the meantime, here is a sample of legislation scheduled to receive consideration in the near term:
Severance tax: Sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman (R- Lima), House Bill 375 would increase the tax on horizontal shale wells from 20 cents per barrel of oil, which currently has a market value of about $100, to a one percent gross receipts tax for the initial five years of production, and two percent thereafter. The tax would reduce to one percent when production falls below 100 MCF or 17 barrels of oil per day, per quarter. The bill creates a nonrefundable income tax credit for the amount of horizontal well severance tax paid. Additionally, it creates an exemption against the commercial activity tax for those paying the horizontal severance tax. The bill is scheduled for opponent testimony in the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 15.
Vehicle safety: Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R- Lancaster), Senate Bill 106 would prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle on or onto any location that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level. The bill would impose on an offender a financial sanction of up to $2,000 for the cost of the person's rescue, payable to the person's rescuer. The legislation is scheduled for proponent testimony in the House Transportation Committee on Jan. 14.
Property valuations: Sponsored by House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman (R- Grove City), House Bill 299 would require counties, municipal corporations, townships, and school boards that file complaints against the valuation of property they do not own to pass a resolution approving the complaint and specifying the compensation paid to any person retained to represent the county, municipal corporation, township, or school board in the matter of the complaint. The bill is scheduled for sponsor testimony in the House State and Local Government Committee on Jan. 14.
Engineers and surveyors: Sponsored by Representative Louis Blessing (R- Cincinnati), House Bill 202 would modify examination, reporting and educational requirements of professional engineers and surveyors. Among the changes included in the legislation, HB 202 requires a person wishing to register as a professional surveyor or professional engineer to first be certified by the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors as a surveyor intern or engineer intern. A person currently receives a certificate upon passing the fundamentals examination. The bill has passed the House and is scheduled for sponsor testimony in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 15.
Abandoned land: Sponsored by Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D- Boardman), Senate Bill 16 provides that a person is not criminally or civilly liable for trespassing on certain abandoned land or similar places of public amusement if the person enters or remains on the land or place of public amusement to remediate it. The bill specifies that a person who enters or remains on the land or place of public amusement in those circumstances is not entitled to any reimbursement for any cost of the remediation unless agreed to by the property owner. The bill has received Senate approval and is scheduled for sponsor testimony in the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15.
Medical immunity: Sponsored by Representative Peter Stautberg (R- Cincinnati), House Bill 276 would provide that certain statements and communications made regarding an unanticipated outcome of medical care are inadmissible as evidence. Further, the bill would require a plaintiff in a medical claim to establish that the defendant's act or omission is a deviation from the required standard of medical care and the direct and proximate cause of the alleged injury, death or loss. The bill is scheduled for proponent testimony in the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 15.
Employee pay: Sponsored by Representative John Rogers (D- Mentor on the Lake), House Bill 253 would prohibit independently owned and operated for-profit businesses with more than 500 employees from requiring employees to accept the employees' pay in the form of a paycheck card. The bill is scheduled for sponsor testimony in the House Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 15.
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