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Main MBR legislation heads to conference committee

The Ohio House did not agree to Senate changes to House Bill 483, the general Mid-Biennium Review bill this week, setting up conference committee deliberations on the nearly 1200-page bill. Legislators will discuss items of difference between the as-introduced, House and Senate versions of the bill. Click here to view a summary of Senate changes. 

Senate Conference Committee appointees include the following:

Senator Scott Oelslager (R- Canton)
Senator Bill Coley (R- Liberty Township)
Senator Tom Sawyer (D- Akron)

House appointees include:

Representative Ron Amstutz (R- Wooster)
Representative Lynn Watchmann (R- Napoleon)
Representative Denise Driehaus (D- Cincinnati)

The committee is expected to meet early next week. Senate President Keith Faber told reporters the Senate intends to complete work for summer recess by June 4, 2014. The legislature is not expected to return from recess until after the fall elections.

Governor unveils new Ohio Means Jobs website

Governor John Kasich officially announced the launch of a new, expanded OhioMeansJobs.com website this week. The announcement took place at Columbus State Community College and featured highlights of the expanded capabilities of the workforce development website.

According to the governor, the website provides a central front door for individuals and businesses interested in employment programs. Previously the site was primarily an online job board and resume bank. The revamped site now includes a menu of career services for job seekers, including: high school and college students, out-of-work Ohioans, veterans, employers, parents, teachers, and counselors.

The site allows job seekers to explore career options, assists employers in finding workers, and gives detailed information about Ohio’s in-demand jobs, including videos describing available jobs. The Governor has long been an advocate for matching job seekers with available careers in the state. He has asked companies seeking workers to work with his Office of Workforce Transformation to use OhioMeansJobs.com to match with potential employees.

"This website and all the items you can explore can open worlds for people,” said the governor. “If you are young and you don't really know what to do, you can go to OhioMeansJobs.com and it will show you most of the jobs that are available in Ohio,” he added.

The site allows a job seeker to plug in their desired salary and skillset and it will provide a roadmap for goal achievement, including additional education requirements and location of available industry jobs. An unemployment section is available for those who have lost their jobs, which shows available jobs in the field where the person was previously working and additional career options that fit the job seeker’s skill sets.

Employers can post and search resumes on the site for free. The site includes a prescreen option, allowing the employer to request Ohio Means Jobs’ staff to prescreen candidates against posted job requirements and provide recommendations.

The state worked with Monster.com to upgrade the website. The project was funded with a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Legislation to watch

Green Energy Standards: Sponsored by Troy Balderson (R – Zanesville), Senate Bill 310 will freeze Ohio’s renewable energy, energy efficiency, and peak demand reduction requirements at 2014 levels for two years while a newly created study committee reviews the current standards and recommends changes to the standards. The House passed the bill on May 28, the bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

Workers’ Compensation: Sponsored by Representatives Barbara Sears (R – Sylvania) and Michael Henne (R – Clayton), House Bill 493 is the Mid-Biennium Review legislation dealing with Ohio’s Workers' Compensation Law. Among the provisions included, the bill requires, rather than permits as under current law, the Administrator of Workers' Compensation to calculate workers' compensation premiums for most employers on a prospective, rather than retrospective, basis, beginning policy year 2015. The bill passed the Senate on May 28.

Insurance laws: Sponsored by Senator Kevin Bacon (R – Columbus), Senate Bill 140 makes changes to the law governing insurance holding company systems. See this previous article on the legislation for additional details. The bill passed the House on May 28.

Captive Insurance Companies: Sponsored by Representative Bob Hackett (R – London), House Bill 117 provides for the operation of captive insurance companies in Ohio and special purpose financial captive insurance companies. H.B. 117 defines captive insurance companies as any insurer that insures only the risks of its parent or the parent's affiliated companies. The bill was approved by the Senate on May 28.

Transportation Projects: Sponsored by Representative Kirk Schuring (R – Canton), House Bill 494 will authorize counties to undertake regional transportation improvement projects funded by the issuance of securities and by revenue pledges from the state and political subdivisions and taxing districts located within the cooperating counties. The bill was approved by the House on May 28.

Utilities Fees for Submeters: Sponsored by Representative Ross McGregor (R – Springfield), House Bill 568 would require the Public Utilities Commission to set the maximum fees that a manufactured home park operator, condominium unit owners association and landlord may charge for utility services provided to a tenant when a submeter is used to measure public utility service to the premises. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing in the House Public Utilities Committee on June 4.

Patent Infringement Lawsuits: Sponsored by Representative Kristina Roegner (R – Hudson), House Bill 573 would prohibit a person from making a bad faith assertion of patent infringement. The bill would permit a person aggrieved by a bad faith assertion of patent infringement to bring a tort action and authorize the Attorney General to investigate and to institute a civil action if the Attorney General believes a person has made such an assertion. The bill was introduced on May 27.

Property Tax Valuations: Sponsored by House Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman (R – Grove City), House Bill 579 would prohibit any party to a property tax valuation dispute, other than the original complainant, from appearing at a county board of revision hearing or subsequent appeal unless the party calls as a witness a representative of the county auditor or another qualified person who has appraised the property at issue. The bill was introduced on May 29.

Homestead Exemption: Sponsored by Representative Louis Terhar (R – Cincinnati) and Representative Anne Gonzales (R – Westerville), House Bill 85 enhances the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 for military veterans who are 100 percent disabled from a service-connected disability. The bill passed the Senate on May 28.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Caputo
(non-attorney professional)
216.348.5770
mcaputo@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Rebecca M. Kuhns
(non-attorney professional)
614.458.0043
rkuhns@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Aaron M. Ockerman
(non-attorney professional)
614.458.0026
aockerman@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Government affairs work is so much more than networking with government officials. It requires a strategic plan drafted by specialists who understand economic development and legislative issues. We help identify ways the government can contribute a solution to a business challenge, such as complying with regulatory and legislative mandates, securing funding for an important project, or obtaining government contracts. Our Government Affairs team has an impressive background. They work together to listen to clients, assess opportunities and recommend how government might contribute to achieving the goal.

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