Terra Goodnight · March 11, 2019
Capitol Square is eagerly awaiting Friday’s statutory deadline for the introduction of the incoming Governor’s first two-year biennial budget plan. While a bill itself is unlikely to surface until next week, we will get a look at the “blue book,” a 800+ page document outlining forecasts for state tax revenue based on the DeWIne Administration’s economic forecasts and proposed changes to change tax policy, along with a line-by-line spending plan for each agency in state government. In total, the budget authorizes the spending of nearly $140 billion in state and federal funds over the two years that begin July 1.
The budget rollout typically happens with a release of documents on the websites of the Office of Budget and Management and the Governor’s Office, followed by a lengthy press briefing and Q&A by the Governor’s budget director. Committee hearings will begin early next week in the House Finance committee and will be the main focus of statehouse lobbyists and advocates for the next several weeks.
Some of the new bills introduced last week that we’ll be watching in the coming months:
House Bill 114 – Earned Income Tax Credit (Skindell, Crawley)– Removes restrictions on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it refundable.
House Bill 122 – Private School Vouchers (Koehler) – Replaces the state’s existing Ed Choice voucher pilot and creates the new Opportunity Scholarship Program to fund either partial or full scholarships for up to 60,000 students from families earning up to $100,000 per year to attend private, mostly religious schools.
House Bill 127 – Academic Distress Commissions (Smith, Hambley) – Prohibits future state takeovers of local school districts. Would not affect the status of any commissions enacted prior to the date of this legislation.
Senate Bill 90 – Minimum Wage – (Thomas, Craig) – Increases the state minimum wage to $15/hour over a period of incremental increases from January 1, 2020-January 1, 2023. Also allows the state’s counties, municipalities, and townships to increase their individual minimum wage requirements.
Senate Bill 91 – Family And Medical Leave (Maharath) – Establishes a statewide family and medical leave insurance program.
Senate Bill 94 – Pregnancy Accommodations (Maharath) – Establishes the “Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are breastfeeding and/or pregnant in the workplace.
>> You can monitor the status of all the bills we are watching here.
10:15 am – Senate Government Oversight & Reform – 3rd hearing, all testimony, possible amendments and vote on SB22, to reduce the minimum number of precinct election officials required at a mutlti-precinct polling location in Senate South Hearing Room.
11:00 am – House Health – First hearing with sponsor testimony on HB90, which would require the Ohio Department of Health to develop a website, public posters and other communications material to inform the public of the “humanity of the unborn child and to create an abortion-free society” and recommend to ODE materials for inclusion in a school curriculum on the subject. In Statehouse Room 116.
3:00 pm – House Ways & Means – 2nd hearing featuring proponent testimony on HB19, which would exempt the purchase of tampons and other feminine hygiene products from the sales tax. In Statehouse Room 116.
3:30 pm – Senate Health, Human Services & Medicaid – Fifth hearing, possible amendments and vote on SB23, to ban abortion at the point of a detectable heartbeat. The committee will also hear testimony and vote on a non-binding resolution to urge Congress to enact S. 311, anti-choice legislation currently pending in Congress.
3:30 pm – House Civil Justice – First hearing with sponsor testimony on HB88, which would prevent public colleges and universities from creating “free speech zones” or to limit political and other controversial speech to certain areas of campus, and subject them to civil liability.
9:15 am – Senate Judiciary – First hearing with sponsor testimony on SB11, the Ohio Fairness Act, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In the Senate North Hearing Room. The committee will also hear testimony from the sponsors of SB18, to prohibit incarcerated woman or girls who are pregnant from being restrained/shackled or placed in solitary confinement during their pregnancy. In the Senate North Hearing Room.
3:00 pm (or after session) – House State & Local Government – First hearing with sponsor testimony on HB92, to require voter approval for any increase in the rate of a county sales tax. In Statehouse Room 122.
Find details about all committee hearings:
Senate – Wednesday, 1:30pm (livestream). The Senate is likely to take up Senate Bill 23, the 6-week abortion ban, and SR41, the above-noted non-binding resolution calling on Congress to pass anti-abortion legislation. Other bills that could be on the floor for a Wednesday vote include SB10 (theft in office), SB22 (precinct election officials) and SB4 (school facilities).
House – Wednesday, 1pm (livestream). The House may take up some license plate and bridge naming bills, as well as HB50, a measure to preserve all intellectual property rights to charter county hospitals where they were developed.
Senate session agendas are set by the Senate Rules and Reference Committee and House session agendas are set by the House Rules and Reference Committee. Check those committee websites before the start of session for a final Rules agenda for each chamber.
Last week, the DeWine administration began to unveil its budget plans. So far, the Governor has announced his two-year budget will include:
More announcements are expected this week.
What we’ve seen so far tracks closely with the Governor’s campaign promises and his State of the State address. While we support additional needed investment, we worry the proposal will not go far enough to address Ohio’s most critical needs, particularly if we intend to increase high school and college completion rates to meet the state’s future employment needs.
We will share our budget priorities later this week, highlighting over a dozen programs and priorities we hope to see reflected in the state budget, along with suggestions for how to pay for it. Sign up for our budget updates to stay up to date on what’s happening as the budget moves through the Statehouse.
As always, we will be sharing updates on Twitter using the #OHLeg hashtag for legislation, #OHBudget for budget updates and #OHGov for executive actions. Follow us to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Statehouse.