Short notes from the House Floor

Welcome to Short Notes from October Session dates of the 128th General Assembly. This is a summary of what happened on the floor of the House in Columbus. This is not meant to be a formal summary of the bills, but meant to provide from my point of view what happened. I know that some readers may disagree with my point of view and I actually appreciate that. I love to learn about issues, study them and process them through my understanding. Full details are available on the House of Representatives website or email me at district46@ohr.state.oh.us and I’ll forward you the bill information and the fiscal notes.

Short notes from the House Floor

Am. H.B. 28 (Gerberry – D) changes the education and experience requirements for eligibility for the office of sheriff.
Passed the House 92-1

Requires that anyone seeking to be a candidate for the office of Sheriff must have: (1) two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer with a rank higher than deputy; or (2) must have a minimum an associate degree.

H.B 103 (Fende – D and Harwood – D) Violence against Judges
Passed the House 89-4

This bill increases the penalties for certain offenses when a judge or a magistrate is the victim. It also makes the killing of a judge or magistrate an aggravating circumstance for the imposition of the death penalty for aggravated murder.

An amendment was added during committee that declared personal information of a probation officer no longer public information.

HB 185 (DeGeeter –D and Book –D) – Material Amendments to Healthcare Contracts
Passed the House Floor 85-14

This legislation takes HB 125 (127thGA) one step further, by requiring that material amendments can’t become a part of any healthcare contract unless the amendment is agreed to by both parties. HB 125 provided that if the provider objects in writing to the material amendment and no resolution is reached either party can terminate the Agreement. I voted against this legislation for a couple of reasons: (1) the ink is hardly dry on HB 125; I believe that we need to provide some time for all parties to understand the legislation. (2) According to the Ohio Association of Health Plans “The only data shared with the House Judiciary Committee on this issue is that our member health insurance companies have issued less than 10 material amendments. Of these amendments, only three providers objected, and all these objections were resolved. Considering our companies provide health care benefits to more than 6 million Ohioans and have over 150,000 contracts with medical providers across the state, this could imply the current system in law is working.” (3) It will likely have unintended consequences of increased administrative work loads which runs counter to trying to reduce healthcare costs and simplify healthcare administration.

HB 280 (Stautberg – R and Driehaus – D) – Municipal Property Tax Levies – Authorize Special Election
Passed the House Floor 93-6

This is an example of a rare piece of legislation that is specific to a single community. The Village of Terrace Park failed to timely certify a resolution proposing the renewal of a specified property tax levy. Because of that failure, they needed to come to the legislature for authorization. The Village will also be required to fund 100% of the cost of the special election with the estimated costs being funded in advance of the election. The Village has roughly 1800 voters and the estimated cost is $2,800.00.

HB 315 (Sykes – D) Postpone for 2 years the last of five scheduled income tax reductions, to reduce salaries of General Assembly members by five per cent, and to make conforming amendments.
Passed the House Floor 55-44

Whether you call it a tax freeze, a tax increase or as one Representative called it a tax decrease…the taxes coming out of your paycheck starting in January of this year will not be enough to coverage your tax liability at the end of the year, unless you over withhold!

Much has been written on this legislation and “Short Notes” would be impossible…however I will note:
(1)The media has repeatedly stated that if we didn’t pass this, the Education budget would be reduced, because of the Governor’s and Lawmaker’s choice. The truth is reductions could and would have come from many areas, I would suggest that none of the cuts would have come from Education – but it sure got everyone’s attention. (2) The “pay cut” the legislature is taking only takes effect in the last 6 months of the budget and only effects House and Senate members. I co-sponsored, Representative Morgan’s bill HB 210 would have “Decrease by 5% the salaries of General Assembly officers and members and the salaries of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, and Attorney General until certain increases occur in the gross domestic product of Ohio. “ The pay decrease in HB 315 was thrown in as a “got you” for those of us that voted against the bill. (3) Most importantly to me…HB 315 did nothing towards planning how we are going to deal with the next budget. House republicans introduced 2 amendments that would have reduced spending; both amendments were tabled without consideration. I can’t ask Ohioan’s to pay more, if I’m not able to show them we trying to find real solutions both in the short term and the long term. If we don’t start the process now…when will we? Interesting the unintended benefit of this tax increase (which is what I call it) – our library’s and local governments could receive an increase in funding as they receive a percentage of the income taxes.

HB 38 (Edna Brown – D)Prince Hall Freemason License Plates
Passed the House 94-0

This bill creates a Prince Hall Freemason license plate.

HB 27 (Gerberry – D) Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway
Passed the House 95-0

Added to this bill were several other bills and amendments:
Special Olympics license plate (HB 157 – Sayre-D)
Teen Driver Education license plate (HB 133 – Batchelder-R)
Pediatric Brain Tumor Awareness license plate (HB 196 – Foley-D)
Phi Theta Kappa license plate (HB217 – Oelslager-R/Garrison-D)
Ohio Nature Preserves license plate (HB 69 – Dodd-D)
Designates the Union Workers Memorial Bridge (HB 91 – Yuko-D)
Corporal Jason J. Hernandez Memorial Highway (HB 76 – Chandler-D)
Sgt. Jeremy Murray Memorial Highway (HB 219 – Dyer-D)
Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Kuglics Memorial Highway (HB 174 – Gerberry-D/Hagan-D)
Sgt. Michael W. Finke, Jr. Memorial Highway (HB 307 – Batchelder-R)
Major Rocco Barnes Memorial Highway (Mandel-R)
American Red Cross license plate (Hagan-D/Carney-D)
Captain David S. Mitchell Memorial Highway (Mandel-R)

Sub HB 230 (Moran-D/Zehringer-R) Makes changes to state agency regulatory procedures and customer service requirements
Passed the House 94-0

The basic intent of this legislation is to require rule-making agencies to think about the effects of the rules they are making by asking questions and prepare a rule evaluation report. It establishes the Ohio Small Business Panel to discuss issues involving small business as it relates to governmental regulations. Requires departments to appoint an ombudsperson and requires customer service training. I’m not certain we needed to pass legislation; I think the Governor should have pulled his Directors together and say that we need to think before we act and ask ourselves are we helping or hurting Ohio businesses by creating this rule or regulation.

The following Bill has passed both the House and the Senate.

SB 93 (Buehrer-R) To establish the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, to prescribe the Commission’s powers and duties, and to terminate the commission on December 31, 2015
Passed the Senate 32-0 / Passed the House 95-0

The Commission will consist of 17 members; the members will be reimbursed for mileage only. The Reimbursement will be funded by the Northwest State Community College. Its purpose it so develop activities appropriate to the celebration and to commemorate the War of 1812’s bicentennial.

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