COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), Chairman of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, today released the tentative hearing schedule for the transportation budget process in the Ohio Senate.

“Transportation issues touch the lives of all Ohioans," said LaRose. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft a transportation budget that invests in Ohio's diverse transportation infrastructure to enhance prosperity and improve safety for Ohio’s families.”

The first day of the transportation budget process will feature informal testimony provided by the directors of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Public Works Commission and Development Services Agency. 

The Senate will begin formal hearings on the transportation budget following its passage by the House of Representatives, which is expected next week. 


Senate Transportation Budget Hearing Schedule

Week of February 27
  • Agency Testimony: Tuesday, February 28, beginning at 9 a.m.
Week of March 6
  • Agency Testimony (if needed) and Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 7
  • Public Testimony: Wednesday, March 8
Week of March 13
  • Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 14
  • Public Testimony: Wednesday, March 15
  • Public Testimony: Thursday, March 16 (if needed)
Week of March 20
  • Public Testimony: Monday, March 20
  • Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 21
  • Committee Vote: Wednesday, March 22
 
 
  

COLUMBUS -Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced that the Ohio Senate has passed Senate Bill 9 which would create the Ohio Sales Tax Holiday in time for the back-to-school shopping season. 

The sales tax holiday provides a sales and use tax exemption for customers purchasing certain retail items during the first weekend in August (August 4th, 5th and 6th) and is intended to boost sales while giving taxpayers a break.

"Renewing the sales tax holiday will help Ohio's families keep more of their hard earned money as they prepare for the next school year," said Obhof. "This legislation provides Ohioans the opportunity to save money on essential clothing and school items, reducing the financial strain on families while increasing sales for local businesses." 

In 2015 and 2016, the widely advertised tax-free shopping period was praised by both back-to-school shoppers and retailers. This year's proposal would require all online and in-store vendors to waive the collection of local and state sales taxes on designated items during the three-day tax holiday.

“The Ohio Sales Tax Holiday has proven to be a win-win for parents, students and businesses alike," added the bill's sponsor, Senator Kevin Bacon. "It’s important that we renew the tax break this year to ensure Ohio families benefit from these savings opportunities."

Savings would again apply to items of clothing priced at $75 or less, commonly used school supplies—crayons, book bags, pencils, etc.—priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials like textbooks and workbooks priced at $20 or less. The price limits apply per item, so consumers can buy as many tax-exempt items under the price limit as they wish, either online or in stores.

Ohio was one of 17 states to host a sales tax holiday last year. The average family with school-age children planned to spend an estimated $673 on back-to-school supplies and clothing in 2016, or $470 without factoring in the cost of computers and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.

Senate Bill 9 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) has co-sponsored legislation to revise Ohio’s drug abuse laws, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose(R-Hudson). The legislation, which passed out of the Ohio Senate last General Assembly with wide-bipartisan support, ensures Ohio law appropriately reflects the potency of fentanyl-related substances.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate often used for post-surgery recovery or to manage chronic pain, is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. In a recent report by the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related deaths have risen from 84 in 2013, to 503 in 2014, to 1,155 in 2015. Fentanyl can be extremely lethal, even in the smallest dose. One major concern is the mixing of fentanyl with heroin, often unbeknownst to the user. While Narcan is useful in reviving an individual from an overdose, one dose is often not strong enough when an individual is suffering from a fentanyl-related overdose.

Senate Bill 1 would lower the amount of fentanyl needed to be sentenced for higher level felony convictions, specifically targeting traffickers of the drug. The bill also seeks to help those suffering from addiction by offering necessary treatment at the time of sentencing. Finally, this legislation adds lisdexamfetamine to the list of Schedule II controlled substances. This drug is often used to treat ADHD and hyperactivity, but presents a high risk of abuse, especially in juveniles.

“Senate Bill 1 takes necessary steps to get fentanyl-traffickers off the streets, while ensuring those suffering from crippling addiction are able to get the help they need,” said Oelslager. “Ohio has seen far too many deaths from heroin and fentanyl-related overdoses. It is crucial we prevent trafficking of large quantities of this dangerous drug, while continuing to educate our communities about addiction and treatment.”

Senate Bill 1 was introduced on January 31, 2017, and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee for consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) announced the Senate passage of legislation this week which would establish the Perry County Municipal Court and seat a full-time judgeship.

Since 1990, the Perry County caseload has increased from 800 new cases annually to more than 4,000. The Ohio Supreme Court reviewed the issue in 2014 and recommended the creation of the Perry County Municipal Court and the conversion of the part-time judgeship into a full-time position.

“Creation of the Perry County Municipal Court will help to address the growing caseload and allow for more personalized attention to be given to drug-related cases, which has the potential to reduce recidivism,” said Hottinger.

Operating on a full-time basis as a Municipal Court with its own judgeship, cases could be adjudicated in less time and the court would have the capacity meet the time constraints set forth by local and state requirements.

When the Village of New Lexington ceased operation of its court in 2013, the increased caseload made the need for a Perry County Municipal Court apparent. 

The proposed Perry County Municipal Court would also help to improve efficiency in the newly formed Perry County New Direction Court program, which seeks to address substance abuse, crime and recidivism of participants through intense supervision, treatment and judicial monitoring.

Senate Bill 25 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation that will reduce the tax burden for Ohio's wounded veterans. 

Senator Obhof co-sponsored Senate Bill 22, which seeks to harmonize recent changes to the federal tax code with Ohio's income tax law. This legislation ensures that Ohio's combat-injured veterans can take advantage of tax savings for the benefits they have earned for their service. 

"This legislation protects Ohio's combat-injured veterans, giving them the ability to take advantage of tax benefits that they are entitled to," said Obhof. "This puts the necessary changes in place as we go through the current tax filing season, ensuring that veterans can keep more of their hard-earned money."

Changes to the federal tax code were made in December 2016 and Senate Bill 22 conforms to those changes, in order to avoid conflicting state and federal tax rules.

"Ohio's brave wounded veterans have already paid so much in their service to our country," said Senator Bob Peterson, the bill's primary sponsor. "That is why I am proud of Senate Bill 22, which demonstrates our commitment to Ohio's veterans." 

Enacting this bill will permit combat-injured veterans to receive all the benefits allowed by the IRS, eliminating additional complexity when filing their taxes.

In addition, this bill ensures that Olympic and Paralympic athletes, whose Federal Adjusted Income is less than $1 million, do not have to pay income tax on the medals they receive.

This legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS - State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) recently introduced legislation that continues Ohio's efforts to fight toxic algae and ensure clean drinking water for all Ohioans. 

"This science-based, holistic legislation takes further steps to help protect one of our most precious natural resources," said Senator Hite. "I appreciate the partnership of the agriculture and environmental communities in crafting this important piece of legislation."

Senate Bill 2 enhances the role of the Lake Erie Commission in meeting Ohio's commitments in reducing phosphorus run-off by 40 percent, as outlined in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This legislation better equips the Commission as it works to implement the Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Strategy.

Other provisions of Senate Bill 2 include:

  • Assures thorough management of privately owned water systems.
  • Requires ongoing asset management improvements by public water systems to address recurrent problems.
  • Harmonizes federal and state law, allowing the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director to issue permits for entities discharging into privately owned treatment facilities.
  • Encourages beneficial use of dredged materials from federal navigation channels such as Port Cleveland and Port Toledo.
  • Strengthens the Ohio EPA's ability to evaluate and enforce the clean up of landfill facilities and properties. The bill also updates state requirements pertaining to construction and demolition debris to ensure safe processing, storage and disposal of materials.
  • Provides the Ohio EPA Director authority to waive, transfer and revoke or modify a 401 Water Quality Certification. Ohio law currently only allows the Director to approve or deny a certification. 

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof also recently named Senator Hite to chair the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture for his fourth consecutive term. He will also take the reins as chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Primary & Secondary Education, which will support the full Senate Finance Committee in developing plans to ensure that Ohio's schools receive adequate funding. 

“I look forward to serving another term as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee,” said Hite. “One out of seven Ohioans work in agriculture, and the industry is especially important in northwest Ohio. We have an ambitious agenda planned for this General Assembly to address a variety of concerns affecting Ohio's agricultural community."

The Senate Agriculture Committee is charged with reviewing legislation impacting the state’s number-one industry, providing legislative oversight for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, among other duties. The committee also makes recommendations to the full senate for the advice and consent of certain governor’s appointments.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced that the Ohio Legislative Service Commission is accepting applications through April 1, 2017 for the 2018 Legislative and Telecommunications Fellowship Program. The Commission will hire 24 fellows to serve in the Ohio General Assembly for the 2018 calendar year.

"The LSC fellows gain invaluable experience while working at the Ohio Statehouse," said President Obhof. "It is an unparalleled opportunity for recent college graduates who are interested in the policy making process to experience firsthand how state government works."

Telecommunications fellows aid in televising Senate and House sessions and committee hearings, as well as in preparing educational video productions about the General Assembly and the legislative process.

Fellows are paid $31,200 per year and will receive full state of Ohio employee benefits, with the chance to earn a $2,000 bonus determined by length of service to the program.

The Legislative Fellowship Program is open to applicants of all major fields of study who desire to learn more about state government; no political experience is required. Prospective telecommunications fellows must have majored or minored in a telecommunications-related field or have comparable experience. To be eligible for either program, applicants must have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college program by the December start date. Applicants with graduate or professional degrees may also apply.

Legislative fellowship application materials must be postmarked by April 1, 2017 to earn consideration for the program. The deadline for telecommunications applicants is April 30, 2017.

More information and application instructions may be found below:

Ohio Legislative Service Commission
Attn: Fellowship Program Coordinators
Vern Riffe Center
77 South High Street, Ninth Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6136
(614) 466-3615
www.lsc.ohio.gov/fellowship
 
 
  

COLUMBUS—This week, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) appointed Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) as Chairman to the Senate Standing Committee of Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs.

"I am grateful to President Obhof for choosing me to lead this Senate standing committee as we continue our efforts to improve government efficiency, strengthen public safety and make Ohio a place that offers abundant opportunity for our military service members as they return home," said Uecker. 

In addition to chairing the Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Uecker will serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, as well as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. He will also continue to serve as chair of the Ohio Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.

A primary goal of his term in the Ohio Senate is to continue creating a jobs-friendly environment in Ohio. As a former small business owner, Senator Uecker understands how to foster an economic environment that allows businesses to grow and create increased employment opportunities.

Senator Uecker holds a B.A. in Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University and an Associates Degree from the University of Cincinnati. He currently resides in Miami Township in Clermont County, where he has spent his entire life. He and his wife Patti have four children and six grandchildren.

 
 
  
 
Senator Bacon Introduces Bill To Renew Widely Popular Ohio Sales Tax Holiday
Families could see relief on back-to-school shopping again this year
January 31, 2017
 
 

COLUMBUS - State Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva) introduced legislation today that would create the 2017 Ohio Sales Tax Holiday in time for back-to-school shopping in August. The sales tax holiday provides a sales and use tax exemption for customers purchasing certain retail items during the first weekend in August and is intended to boost sales while giving taxpayers a break.

"Renewing Ohio's Sales Tax Holiday will help families as they prepare to send their kids back to school in August," said Senator Bacon. "Tax savings on essential clothing and school items reduces the financial strain on consumers and boosts sales for local businesses." 

Since 2015, the widely advertised tax-free shopping period has been praised by both back-to-school shoppers and retailers. Senator Bacon's proposal would require all online and in-store vendors to waive the collection of local and state sales taxes on designated items during the three-day tax holiday.

“The Ohio Sales Tax Holiday has proved to be a win-win for parents, students and businesses alike. It’s important that we renew the tax break again this year to ensure Ohio families benefit from these savings opportunities."

Savings would apply to items of clothing priced at $75 or less, commonly used school supplies—crayons, book bags, pencils, etc.—priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials like textbooks and workbooks priced at $20 or less. The price limits apply per item, so consumers can buy as many tax-exempt items under the price limit as they wish, either online or in stores.

Ohio was one of 17 states to host a sales tax holiday last year. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with school-age children planned to spend an estimated $673 on back-to-school supplies and clothing in 2016, or $470 without factoring in the cost of computers and electronics. 

Senate Bill 9 will be referred to a Senate standing committee for further consideration. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS - State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) joined colleague State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) today to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening Ohio's workforce development efforts. 

The legislation is part of an ongoing effort by state leaders to create a statewide strategy aimed at preparing the next generation of workers to take on careers in some of Ohio's most in-demand professions.

"Our skilled workforce is our state's greatest economic development asset as job creators seek to expand their operations in Ohio," said Senator Beagle.

In collaboration with the Ohio Department of Education and Department of Higher Education, Ohio's major industries would help to create a statewide strategic workforce plan for enhancing project-based learning and develop professional development programs that address how to build authentic, real-world, project-based learning into the curriculum.

"This legislation will help raise awareness about high-paying, in-demand career opportunities and equip the workforce of tomorrow with the skills required in a rapidly evolving 21st Century economy," added Senator Beagle.

As part of an effort to connect future workers and employers, regional economic development leaders and education officials would be charged with developing meaningful career service opportunities based on regional workforce needs. 

Building on the theme of increasing awareness about potential careers, the legislation would also establish an annual “Ohio In-Demand Jobs Week” organized by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, in coordination with the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The designated week would allow middle and high school students an opportunity to participate in job fairs and explore job opportunities with local employers. 

 
 
  
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Senate Announces Hearing Schedule For State Transportation Budget

 

“Transportation issues touch the lives of all Ohioans," said LaRose. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft a transportation budget that invests in Ohio's diverse transportation infrastructure to enhance prosperity and improve safety for Ohio’s families.”



 
 

Obhof Announces Passage Of Sales Tax Holiday Bill

 

"Renewing the sales tax holiday will help Ohio's families keep more of their hard earned money as they prepare for the next school year," said Obhof. "This legislation provides Ohioans the opportunity to save money on essential clothing and school items, reducing the financial strain on families while increasing sales for local businesses." 



 
 

Oelslager Seeks To Strengthen Penalties Against Drug Traffickers

 

“Senate Bill 1 takes necessary steps to get fentanyl-traffickers off the streets, while ensuring those suffering from crippling addiction are able to get the help they need,” said Oelslager. “Ohio has seen far too many deaths from heroin and fentanyl-related overdoses. It is crucial we prevent trafficking of large quantities of this dangerous drug, while continuing to educate our communities about addiction and treatment.”



 
 

Hottinger Announces Senate Passage Of Bill To Create Full-time Perry County Judgeship

 

“Creation of the Perry County Municipal Court will help to address the growing caseload and allow for more personalized attention to be given to drug-related cases, which has the potential to reduce recidivism,” said Hottinger.