At The Statehouse: Bills, Bills, Bills.

New Legislation

Last week, the floodgates opened as lawmakers in both the Ohio House and Senate introduced a total of 118 bills for consideration by the 133rd General Assembly.

Some of the proposals that we’ll be watching in the coming months include:

House Bill 19 – Menstrual Hygiene Products (Antani, Kelly) – Exempts tampons and other menstrual hygiene products from the sales and use tax.

House Bill 34 – Minimum Wage (Kelly) – Increases the state’s minimum wage to be $15 per hour by 2023. Also allows for municipalities, townships, and counties to establish higher minimum wage requirements.

House Bill 49 – Voter ID (Greenspan) – To authorize the use of a concealed firearms permit as an approved photo identification for voting purposes.

House Bill 54 – Local Government Fund (Cera, Rogers) – To restore revenue sharing between the state and its counties, cities, townships and villages via the Local Government Fund to its pre-2011 levels.

House Bill 62 – Transportation Budget (Oelslager) – To approve expenditures of gas tax revenue for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. A placeholder bill today, the legislation will soon be amended to include the DeWine Administration’s proposals to address what they are calling a transportation funding “crisis.”

House Bill 68 (Hood, Keller) / Senate Bill 23 (Roegner) – Abortion Ban – Bans abortion at the point of a detectable fetal heartbeat. The bill would also criminalize doctors who perform an abortion after this point with a fifth degree felony, with the ability for the State Medical Board to suspend a medical license without a hearing. Many believe this measure would result in the closure of all remaining clinics in Ohio, effectively ending legal abortion in the state.

Senate Bill 3 – Drug Sentencing (Eklund, O’Brien) – To revise Ohio’s drug sentencing laws.

Senate Bill 11 – Ohio Fairness Act (Antonio) – Prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, meaning that it would add LGBTQ people to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio. The bill would not affect existing religious exemptions that are currently present in Ohio’s law.

Senate Bill 19 – Extreme Risk Protection Order (Williams) – To allow family, household members and law enforcement officers to obtain a court order temporarily restricting a person from having access to firearms if that person is deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Senate Bill 27 – Fetal Remains (Uecker) – To require the burial or cremation of fetal remains resulting from a surgical abortion procedure.

Senate Bill 30 – Women’s Suffrage (Kunze, Williams) – Creates the Bi-Partisan women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission responsible to plan and carry out events that educate and raise the awareness about the women’s suffrage movement in recognition of the one hundredth anniversary of the 19th amendment.

Senate Bill 33 – Critical Infrastucture (Hoagland) – To increase penalties for damage to certain so-called “critical infrastructure” facilities. This measure is believed to be targeted at environmental protests of pipelines and other energy infrastructure.

Senate Bill 43 – Domestic Violence (Kunze, Antonio) – Addresses domestic violence by enhancing penalties and restricting firearms from convicted perpetrators. The bill also prohibits strangulation against a family or household member or dating partner.

>> You can monitor the status of all the bills we are watching here.

Committee Hearings To Watch

Tuesday

11 am – House Health Committee – First hearing on HB58 (SNAP benefits) featuring sponsor testimony in Statehouse Room 116

1 pm – Senate Health Committee – Second hearing on SB23 (6-week abortion ban) featuring proponent testimony in Senate South Hearing Room.

1 pm – House Finance Committee – Second hearing on HB62 (2020-21 Transportation Budget) featuring all testimony in Statehouse Room 313.

3 pm – House Ways & Means Committee – First hearing on HB19 (tampon taxes) & HB60 (diaper taxes) featuring sponsor testimony in Statehouse Room 116.

Wednesday

9 am – House Finance Committee – Third hearing on HB62 (2020-21 Transportation Budget) featuring all testimony in Statehouse Room 313.

9:30 am – Senate Judiciary Committee – First hearing on SB33 (critical infrastructure) featuring sponsor testimony in Senate North Hearing Room.

Thursday

9 am – House Finance Committee – Fourth hearing on HB62 (2020-21 Transportation Budget) featuring all testimony and a possible substitute bill in Statehouse Room 313.

Follow us on Twitter for for updates on newly scheduled events and hearings.

In Session

This week, the Ohio House is scheduled to meet in full session on Wednesday at 1pm. The agenda has not yet been announced, and as yet, no bills have been reported by committee for consideration by the Chamber as a whole.

Budget Update: Fiscal Year 2019 Surplus Could Approach Half a Billion

Many news outlets have reported that state Income tax collections have come in below estimates for the past two months. We thought it would be helpful to put this news into context. State officials note that these lower-than-projected collections are not the result of shrinking paychecks, as withholding from workers’ paychecks is coming in where it should. Instead, the shortfall is with taxpayers who pay estimated taxes each quarter, and likely has to do with uncertainty around the size of April tax bills, resulting from big changes to federal tax law enacted in 2018.

In fact, when taken as a whole, state tax collections for Fiscal Year 2019 (which ends on June 30) are $80 million ahead of forecast, thanks to better-than-expected collection of the sales’ and other state taxes.

While state tax collections are above estimate, state spending is actually below initial forecasts. In particular, the Medicaid program is estimated to be costing taxpayers nearly $400 million less than what budget officials estimated it would.

Taken together, higher than expected tax collection and lower than expected state spending will give the DeWine administration a nearly $500 million cushion going into the state two-year budget process.The DeWine agenda includes a great deal of new spending, so this surplus could help them to make a down payment on campaign promises without the need to sell a tax increase to the Republican-dominated legislature.

Last Week’s Most-Clicked Political News Stories

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As always, we will be sharing updates on Twitter using the #OHLeg hashtag for legislation and #OHGov for executive actions. Follow us to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Statehouse.


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