COLUMBUS—State Senator Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati) today announced the Senate passage of legislation providing Ohio's school districts a new, alternative option for accessing state support for facility needs like technology infrastructure and safety features.

"The safety and security of our students should be a paramount concern for school officials," said Terhar. "This legislation seeks to make additional resources available for districts to address facility needs, without requiring stringent state requirements." 

Senate Bill 8 creates a new 1:1 match option for schools that have not yet received any state support or entered into an agreement with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which is approximately 229 districts.

Sponsored by Senators Terhar and Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), the bill allows school districts that have not accepted money in the traditional school construction program to accept smaller amounts of state facilities aid in exchange for a reduced local match.

The plan is expected to fund school districts faster, while saving state tax dollars from the traditional classroom construction fund. The Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Ohio School Board Association and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators have all endorsed the legislation. 

“We have a real opportunity to make a difference toward better support options for schools," said Gardner.

Since 1997, Ohio has dedicated more than $11.5 billion in state aid to update and improve school facilities across the state.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

Clarifying Ohio Lending Laws

Additionally, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 24, sponsored by Senator Terhar, which will clarify Ohio's installment lending laws to help eliminate confusion for consumers and lenders as well as simplify the role of industry regulators. 

Senate Bill 24 now goes to Governor John Kasich to be signed into law.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the passage of legislation that provides common sense criminal justice reforms giving victims of human trafficking an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Senate Bill 4, co-sponsored by Obhof, offers hope to human trafficking victims who are often forced to commit crimes while being victimized. Arrests stemming from coerced behavior, such as prostitution or drug use, can negatively impact the victim's ability to apply for a job or seek permanent housing. This legislation would allow for expungement from the victim's criminal record of certain offenses committed under duress. Additionally, the bill would permit victims of compelled prostitution to apply for intervention in lieu of conviction.

"Sadly, human trafficking is a growing criminal enterprise," said Obhof. "As we continue our efforts to stomp out this form of modern-day slavery, we remain committed to helping victims rebuild their lives and ensuring that our civil justice system treats them fairly."

Senate Bill 4 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. Today's legislation complements a series of bills passed over the last several years focused on combating human trafficking by increasing protections for victims as well as strengthening punishments for offenders. For more information on Ohio's human trafficking laws and resources, visit www.humantrafficking.ohio.gov.

Investing in Safer Schools
The Senate also passed legislation today providing Ohio's school districts a new, alternative option for accessing state support for facility needs like technology infrastructure, safety features or additional classroom space for a growing student population. Senate Bill 8, also co-sponsored by Obhof, creates a new 1:1 match option for schools that have not yet received state support or entered into an agreement with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. Since 1997, Ohio has dedicated more than $11.5 billion in state aid to update and improve school facilities across the state.
 

Commemorating the Holocaust
President Obhof today joined Governor Kasich, Speaker Rosenberger and members of the Ohio Jewish Communities at the Statehouse for the 37th Annual Governor's Holocaust Commemoration. 

Obhof said, "While we reflect on one of humanity's darkest times, may God grant each of us the courage to stand up in protest when we are confronted with evil and hate."
 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger today welcomed the U.S. Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment for a performance on the Statehouse lawn to commemorate National Military Appreciation Month. They were joined by guest of honor Annie Glenn, wife of the late Senator and astronaut John Glenn.

"It was a privilege to be part of today's ceremony honoring the courageous men and women in our armed forces," said Obhof. "We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the tens of thousands of soldiers who have given their lives defending the freedoms we enjoy today."

The battle color ceremony featured the U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, the Silent Drill Platoon and the Marine Corps Color Guard. The event was free and open to the public. This was the unit's first performance at the Ohio Statehouse and a rare large-scale drill by the group outside of Washington D.C.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the passage of legislation which would update the way agricultural property values are calculated in order to provide much needed tax relief to Ohio’s farmers.

Senate Bill 36, which President Obhof co-sponsored, would modify the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) formula, which determines the value of farmland for property taxation purposes. The bill aims to set a more realistic and stable expectation of taxes owed by farmers. Some commodity prices dropped significantly in the last several years while the CAUV formula simultaneously caused farm property assessments to increase, putting many farming businesses in jeopardy. Recent farmland property taxes have increased by as much as 200-300% in some areas of the state.

“Our farmers need a reliable tax policy that values their land fairly—not skyrocketing rates that tax them out of business," said Obhof. "Senate Bill 36 will help ensure long-term stability for our agricultural communities."

Senate Bill 36 also recognizes the efforts Ohio farmers have made in protecting the state's water supply. For farms setting aside acreage for conservation efforts, the new CAUV policy will ensure the lowest taxable level on that land.

“This bill is more than tax reform. It is also about encouraging conservation,” added Obhof. “This bill will course-correct state policy. Farmers should not be unfairly penalized for protecting our natural resources."

CAUV is a property tax relief program for agricultural land in Ohio. It is the result of a voter referendum from 1973 that allows farmland to be taxed according to its agricultural value, as apposed to full market value. This program is considered a “differential assessment,” a type of tax relief used for agricultural lands in the United States.

Senate Bill 36 now moves to the Ohio House for consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), along with Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Chairman of the Senate's standing committee on Finance, released today the tentative hearing schedule for the budget process in the Ohio Senate.

The Senate has been holding informal hearings over the last several weeks in anticipation of receiving the budget, but began formal hearings last week upon receiving the budget after its passage in the House. Under Ohio law, the legislature must pass a balanced budget and have it signed by the Governor prior to July 1 of this year.

"I look forward to the hearing process and greatly value the collaboration between our Finance committee and our four subcommittees," said Oelslager. "With the short timeframe we have, this approach allows us to have more focused discussions and ensures input from every member of the Senate."

In order to provide full access to any Ohioan interested in the proceedings, the Senate's Finance Committee budget hearings are streamed live online atOhioSenate.gov and are broadcast on public access stations by the Ohio Channel. Committee meetings are also open to the public, and a schedule can be found atOhioSenate.gov/Committees. Those interested in testifying should contact the committee chairs.

Senate Budget Hearing Schedule
Week of May 8 - Subcommittee Hearings

  • General Government and Agency Review subcommittee, chaired by SenatorKris Jordan
  • Health and Medicaid subcommittee, chaired by Senator Bob Hackett
  • Higher Education subcommittee, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner
  • Primary and Secondary Education subcommittee, chaired by Senator Cliff Hite

Week of May 15 - Additional Subcommittee Hearings

Week of May 22 - Additional Subcommittee Hearings

Week of May 29 - Full Finance Committee Public Hearings 
(at the discretion of the Chair) 

  • Tuesday, May 30
  • Wednesday, May 31
  • Thursday, June 1 

Week of June 5 - Full Finance Committee Public Hearings 
(at the discretion of the Chair)

  • Tuesday, June 6
  • Wednesday, June 7 
 
 
  
 
Balancing The State's Budget: Challenges And Opportunities
A Guest Column by Senate President Larry Obhof
May 02, 2017
 
 
Every two years Ohio’s General Assembly and Governor are called upon to pass a biennial budget bill that funds the operations of the state. The Governor proposes the bill, which is introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives and is considered for several months before being sent to the Senate. This General Assembly’s budget bill is House Bill 49. 
 
The House is completing its consideration of House Bill 49 this week. The Senate has only a brief time to work on it—the bill must be finalized by the end of June—but we began preparations for the bill several weeks ago. This bill is a centerpiece of the legislature’s agenda and includes funding or statutory changes related to all of the state’s departments. 
 
Perhaps more so than any other legislative action, the biennial budget bill reflects the priorities of the state and determines the course of its agencies for the next two years. The budget funds state agencies and social services at both the state and local levels. The bill will include a funding formula for Ohio’s school systems, and it will allocate the resources needed to fund that formula.  It also reflects legislative choices about tax policy, the size and scope of government and the role of government in the economy. Each bill is unique and each is influenced by economic and fiscal conditions, which vary from year to year. While each bill presents its own set of challenges, each also presents an opportunity for the Senate to make sure Ohio keeps moving in the right direction.  
 
When I joined the State Senate in 2011, Ohio faced an estimated $8 billion shortfall. The prior administration had run down the state’s “rainy day fund”—essentially, the state’s savings account—to just 89 cents. Ohio faced a difficult and uncertain future. 
 
Did we raise taxes to close the $8 billion gap? No. We made difficult choices but balanced the budget by restraining government spending. And while we were doing so, we actually cut taxes, including eliminating Ohio’s death tax. We wanted to make Ohio more attractive to job creators, encourage small business growth and let hardworking Ohioans keep more of their own money.   
 
In 2013, the Ohio Senate remained committed to lowering Ohioans’ tax burdens. We instituted a broad series of reforms that included, among other things, a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut and a small business tax cut, for a net income tax cut of nearly $3 billion. At the same time, we added more than $700 million to the state’s school funding formula—the largest new investment in primary and secondary education in more than a decade. 
 
In 2015, we again provided tax relief and support to Ohioans and small businesses with the purpose of keeping the state’s economy healthy and growing. That year’s budget bill included an across-the-board 6.3 percent income tax cut for all Ohioans, but also invested an additional $900 million dollars into K-12 education. The Senate worked hard to ensure that no school district lost funding compared to the prior budget. 
 
The past three budget bills played a major role in Ohio’s recovery. As we have implemented tax cuts and other pro-market reforms, the business climate has improved and Ohio has gained more than 460,000 new jobs. We replenished the rainy day fund, which now holds around $2 billion, and Ohio's credit outlook was upgraded even though the national credit rating fell. No single factor is responsible for all these things, but the starting point was a responsible budget that controlled costs and lowered the tax burden on Ohio’s workers and job creators. 
 
This year we face a more challenging budget cycle than any since 2011. Although Ohio employers continue to add jobs, the state’s tax revenues have generally missed projections, month-after-month for the past year.  Governor John Kasich, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and I recently announced that Ohio’s projected revenue for the next two fiscal years is on pace to be $800 million less than originally anticipated. 
 
This is a significant gap, and we will have to make some tough decisions over the next two months in order to close that gap. One thing is certain, though: the Ohio Senate will pass a balanced budget. We will roll up our sleeves and get to work, just like we did in 2011. You, the taxpayers, should settle for nothing less.   
 
I welcome your input on the biennial budget or on any other bill. If you have questions, or if you have any ideas that you would like to share, you can reach me by phone at (614) 466-7505 or by e-mail at Obhof@ohiosenate.gov. You may also reach me by mail at State Senator Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
# # #
 
 
  
 
Ohio's Transportation Budget: Investing In Our Roads And Bridges
A Guest Column by Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof
April 11, 2017
 
 

The Ohio Senate recently passed the state’s biennial transportation budget. This bill, House Bill 26, is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that will be enacted during the two-year legislative cycle. It provides funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as well as many infrastructure projects throughout the state. In total, House Bill 26 invests nearly $8 billion into the construction, maintenance and safety of Ohio’s roads, bridges and highway system.

The transportation budget makes critical investments in infrastructure, which will lead to improvements to roads and bridges across the state of Ohio. Our focus wasn’t just on funding, though. Throughout the process it was important to the Senate that state government run more efficiently and more effectively and that we continue our efforts to make Ohio a more attractive place to do business.

Among the bill's provisions was a codification and renewal of the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program. Initially sponsored by the Senate a few years ago, this popular program requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to partner with local governments (generally the County Engineer) to repair local bridges. This cooperation gets local governments the help they need for important infrastructure improvements, directing resources back to local communities and ensuring that our bridges are safe.

The Senate also sought to improve government efficiency, to help ensure that we are protecting your tax dollars and doing more with less. That is why House Bill 26 included key provisions allowing townships and municipalities to enter into agreements to share services as it relates to maintenance, repair and the improvement of their roads by creating joint road districts.

One of our key priorities as a legislature is improving Ohio’s economy so that employers can grow and expand and any Ohioan who wants a well-paying job can find one. Ohio has made important progress in recent years, as we have cut taxes, eliminated unnecessary red tape and regulation and made significant improvements to our civil and commercial laws. These changes have helped Ohio add more than 400,000 jobs in the past six years. The transportation budgets that I have been involved in have played a key role in this. These bills improved Ohio’s ability to use public-private partnerships to spur investment in infrastructure and allowed the state to leverage turnpike bonds to fund and accelerate the timing of many additional highway projects. House Bill 26 will build on that momentum. The bill includes a pilot program that reduces registration fees for high-volume commercial vehicle fleets. This will encourage businesses to move their fleets to Ohio and could result in more job opportunities and economic development in our state’s trucking industry.

Importantly, a portion of the deliberations on the transportation budget were recorded and made available on the Ohio Channel online and on local public access broadcast stations. Open and accountable government is a priority for the Senate. Any time the state is spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars, the process should be accessible by We the People. That is why I recently expanded televised coverage of the Senate’s proceedings to include several key committees, including the Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee that considered House Bill 26. For the first time ever, the Ohio Senate was able to bring the inner workings of a transportation budget process to Ohioans everywhere, even in their own homes.

Just after the Senate passed the final version of House Bill 26, I joined the Ohio Department of Transportation as it kicked off construction season in north-central Ohio. There are major projects being undertaken throughout the 22nd District, as well as the rest of the state.

As the 132nd General Assembly continues, I will remain focused on improving our infrastructure and our economy. As with any issue, I welcome your input on our transportation system. If you have questions, or if you have any ideas that you would like to share, you can reach me by phone at (614) 466-7505 or by e-mail at Obhof@ohiosenate.gov. You may also reach me by mail at Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS - State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation providing additional training opportunities, helping equip Ohio's local police chiefs as leaders in their departments and communities.

Sponsored by Senator Hite, the legislation would establish a 40-hour police chief training program designed for newly appointed local police chiefs. Course content would include diversity training with an emphasis on historical perspectives and community-police relations. 

"This training program helps prepare local police chiefs to become effective and dynamic leaders in the communities they serve," said Senator Hite. 

In 2015, Ada Police Chief Michael Harnishfeger approached Senator Hite with the idea of establishing the training program. Senate Bill 37 is the result of extensive collaboration between the Ohio Attorney General's office and the Ohio Police Chiefs Association.

If signed into law, newly appointed police chiefs would be required to attend the training program, provided by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, beginning in January 2018.

Senate Bill 37 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
Senator Hoagland speaks on the floor of the Ohio Senate, Wednesday, in favor of his legislation, which would provide significant funding for local infrastructure projects.

COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate approved legislation today, sponsored by Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), making significant infrastructure investments in local communities throughout the state.

"The condition of our roads and bridges is an ongoing concern for southeast Ohio," said Senator Hoagland. "Investing in local bridge projects helps to support economic development and makes Ohio's roadways safer for the traveling public."

Ohio has the most bridges of any state, except Texas, with more than 26,000 structures. In 2015, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimated that more than 1,800 of Ohio's bridges are structurally deficient, with another 4,200 deemed functionally obsolete.

Created by executive action in October of 2013, the Ohio Bridge partnership Program has invested approximately $138 million for repairing and replacing more than 200 bridges statewide. The program is set to expire at the end of June 2017. 

Bridges must meet the following criteria to be eligible for funding: be more than 20 feet in length; be deemed structurally deficient; must currently be open and carrying vehicular traffic; and must not be currently funded by other sources. 

Senate Bill 6 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

$7.8 Billion Investment in State Highway System

The Senate also approved legislation today investing $7.8 billion to fund the construction, maintenance and safety of the state's transportation system. The Ohio Department of Transportation estimates that the budget will support and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next two years. 

"Well-maintained roads and bridges are an important consideration for companies seeking to expand their operations and create jobs here in Ohio," said Hoagland. "This budget invests in critical infrastructure and provides additional dollars for counties and municipalities."

Passed by the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support, House Bill 26 provides funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Public Works Commission and Development Services Agency.

"This bill makes critical investments in infrastructure, improving roads and bridges throughout the state of Ohio," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). "The bill also makes improvements in government efficiency and includes key changes to make Ohio a more attractive place to do business."

Among the bill's provisions included in the Senate-passed version:

  • Additional Funding to Local Governments: Allocates an additional $48 million in funding over the biennium from the existing motor fuel tax revenue to counties and municipalities for the improvement of local roads and bridges. This is above the $124 million proposed by the Administration.
     
  • Bringing Business Back to Ohio: Reduces the registration fee for high-volume, commercial vehicle fleets, encouraging this business to stay in Ohio, resulting in more job opportunities and economic development in Ohio's trucking and commercial vehicle industry. It also modernizes and streamlines the current registration process.
     
  • Enhanced Consumer Protections: Requires any entity other than the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to use a prominent disclaimer about fees charged for services that are already provided by authorized local registrars and the state-provided website.
     
  • Increasing Efficiency: Allows townships and municipal corporations to enter into agreements to share services as it relates to maintenance, repair and the improvement of their roads by creating joint road districts.
     
  • More Funding for Public Transit: At least $33 million per year will be invested in public transit options across the state. The bill also directs an additional $15 million from an existing emissions settlement towards public transit vehicles powered by clean energy.


House Bill 26 now proceeds to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today appointed State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) to serve on the 14-member governing board for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. 

"The Commission plays an integral role in Ohio's legislative process, providing important support services for the members of the General Assembly on a daily basis," said Senator Peterson. "I look forward to representing the Ohio Senate and providing guidance to the Commission in this role."

Established in 1953, The Legislative Service Commission (LSC) is a nonpartisan agency that provides drafting, research, training and other services for the members and staff of the Ohio General Assembly.

LSC is currently accepting applications from recent college graduates for its 2017 Fellowship program. Applications are due by April 1st. To learn more about the program, click here

 
 
  
<< Older Posts
Featured Posts

Terhar Announces Senate Passage Of Legislation Investing In School Safety And Technology

 

"The safety and security of our students should be a paramount concern for school officials," said Terhar. "This legislation seeks to make additional resources available for districts to address facility needs, without requiring stringent state requirements." 



 
 

Senate Passes Legislation Helping Victims Of Human Trafficking Reclaim Their Lives

 

"Sadly, human trafficking is a growing criminal enterprise," said Obhof. "As we continue our efforts to stomp out this form of modern-day slavery, we remain committed to helping victims rebuild their lives and ensuring that our civil justice system treats them fairly."



 
 

Obhof Welcomes U.S. Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment To The Statehouse

 

"It was a privilege to be part of today's ceremony honoring the courageous men and women in our armed forces," said Obhof. "We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the tens of thousands of soldiers who have given their lives defending the freedoms we enjoy today."



 
 

Obhof Announces Senate Passage Of Tax Reforms For Ohio's Farmers

 

“Our farmers need a reliable tax policy that values their land fairly—not skyrocketing rates that tax them out of business," said Obhof. "Senate Bill 36 will help ensure long-term stability for our agricultural communities."