February 2019 Legislative Update

Feb 21, 2019Advocacy

Chris Schmenk
Bricker & Eckler LLP



State News:

JobsOhio: Governor Mike DeWine and the Board of Directors of JobsOhio announced February 14 that J.P. Nauseef has been selected as the next president and chief investment officer of JobsOhio.  Mr. Nauseef will start the new role in March and replace John Minor, who had served since 2012.  Mr. Nauseef is a former U.S. Air Force officer with experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and most notably was the president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. More information is at: https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/021419a

Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure: On January 28, Governor DeWine announced the formation of a 15 member advisory committee tasked with studying the current conditions of Ohio’s roadways and recommending options for maintaining and enhancing the state’s transportation infrastructure.  Members include industry, economic development professionals (Mike Jacoby of APEG), public officials, labor, and representatives of interested trade associations. The group’s report, released February 15, recommends an increase in the state gas tax as one solution to address a $1 billion shortfall needed to maintain the state’s bridge and road infrastructure.  On February 19 at an Associated Press event, Governor DeWine indicated he may support such an increase.

133rd General Assembly

Although neither the House nor the Senate has begun holding regular Session, numerous bills have been introduced.  Committee meetings have started, and legislative activity will likely begin next week.  Among the bills noted below, HB 62 (the Transportation Budget) will be carefully followed.  Introduced as a one-sentence placeholder bill, the actual legislation is scheduled to be released by Governor DeWine’s Administration Thursday February 21.

House Leadership and Committee Assignments

On Wednesday February 6, the House formally elected its leaders in addition to Speaker Larry Householder.  New leaders of the House Republican caucus include: Representative Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), speaker pro tempore; Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who retains his place as majority floor leader; Representative Anthony DeVitis (R-Green), assistant floor leader; Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), majority whip; and Representative Laura Lanese (R-Grove City), assistant majority whip.

Of those, Representatives Seitz and Lanese previously voted for Representative Ryan Smith, Representative Householder’s rival in the speaker’s race, so their inclusion on the leadership team was of note.

House Democratic leadership changes were also formally approved, including the election of Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). Other leadership spots finalized for that caucus include: Representative Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), assistant minority leader; Representative Kent Smith (D-Euclid), minority whip; and Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), assistant minority whip.

House Committee assignments were announced on Friday, February 8.

Senate Leadership: The Senate filled two leadership positions Wednesday February 6 that opened up when Chancellor Randy Gardner left the Senate to lead the Department of Higher Education.  Senator Matt Huffman was elected as floor leader, elevating him from his prior position of majority whip. The Senate then chose Senator Jay Hottinger to fill the majority whip position.

The Senate in January re-elected President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) to lead the chamber, while Senator Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), was confirmed as president pro tem.

On the Democratic side, Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Hts.) retained his position as minority leader, while Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) was named assistant minority leader. Senator Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) was chosen for the role of minority whip and Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) was selected as assistant minority whip.

Bills Being Tracked:

House Concurrent Resolution 1 (Holmes, G): This Resolution would encourage General Motors to keep its Lordstown Complex open by allocating a new vehicle for production there.  It was introduced February 19 and referred to the House Commerce & Labor Committee.  If approved by the House and Senate,  copies would be transmitted to the Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the President of the United States, the President Pro Tempore and Secretary of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Clerk of    the United States House of Representatives, each member of the       Ohio Congressional delegation, and the news media of Ohio.

House Bills:

HB 34   MINIMUM WAGE  (Kelly, B.)  This bill would increase the state minimum wage and allow municipalities, townships and counties to establish higher minimum wage requirements.  The bill has been referred to the House Commerce & Labor Committee.

HB 48  ROAD IMPROVEMENT FUND  (Greenspan, D.)  This measure would provide for a new Local Government Road Improvement Fund for local governments to fund road improvements.  It has been referred to the Finance Committee.

HB 62  TRANSPORTATION BUDGET  (Oelslager, S.)  This is the Transportation Budget bill and will make appropriations for programs related to transportation and public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2021.  It will also provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.  It has been referred to the House Finance Committee where the next hearing is scheduled for February 22.

Senate Bills:

SB 1 REGULATIONS  (McColley, R., Roegner, K.)  This measure would require certain agencies to reduce the number of regulatory restrictions and to amend the versions of sections 106.021 and 106.03 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect August 18, 2019, to continue the provision of this act on and after that effective date.  It was referred to the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee where a first hearing occurred February 19.

SB 8 OPPORTUNITY ZONES  (Schuring, K.)  This bill would authorize tax credits for investments in an Ohio Opportunity Zone. To qualify for the tax credit, investors must invest at least $250,000 during the taxable year, and the amount of the credit allowed shall be equal to one percent of the amount invested.  The bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee where it is scheduled for a first hearing February 20.

SB 37 TAX CREDIT  (Schuring, K.)  This bill would  extend eligibility for and make other changes to the motion picture tax credit.  Among other changes, “Broadway theatrical productions” would become eligible for the credit.  The bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee where it is scheduled for a first hearing February 20.

SB 39 INSURANCE TAX  (Schuring, K.)  This measure would authorize an insurance premiums tax credit for capital contributions to transformational mixed use development projects.  To qualify, projects must:

(a)        have a transformational economic impact within  the project area approved by the director of the development  services agency;

(b)       be a mixed use development that integrates some  combination of retail, office, residential, recreation,  structured parking, and other similar uses; and

(c)        include at least one building that is fifteen or more  stories in height or has a floor area of at least three hundred  fifty thousand square feet.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

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