Obhof Discusses Regulatory Reforms Necessary For Ohio's Economic Prosperity
Ohio's 246,852 Restrictions Far Surpass Neighboring States
March 21, 2018

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today called for additional reforms of Ohio’s regulatory environment. He was joined by Dr. James Broughel of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who recently completed a study on the number of regulatory restrictions the state imposes, and Robert Alt, President and CEO of the Buckeye Institute.
The Mercatus Center has studied the regulatory environments of 22 states so far as part of its ongoing “State RegData” project. Their study concluded that Ohio is one of the most heavily regulated states they have analyzed, trailing only New York and Illinois, and far surpassing the neighboring states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia.
 “Unnecessary red tape and regulation is stifling the potential of Ohio’s small businesses, which in turn limits job opportunities for Ohioans,” said Obhof. “The legislature has a responsibility to make sure any rules or regulations created by state government have a specific purpose and intent to protect our citizens and do not create needless barriers to growth and opportunity.”
"With more than 246,000 regulatory restrictions on the state's books, policy makers in Ohio should be considering regulatory reform as a way to boost growth," said Dr. James Broughel of the Mercatus Center.

In response to the study, President Obhof highlighted the opportunity to reduce red tape bureaucracy while continuing to provide Ohioans with necessary health and safety protections. He identified today several ways the legislature could consider modernizing Ohio’s Administrative Code and reducing cumbersome regulations, including: 

  • Tracking and accounting of the total number of restrictions in Ohio;
  • Allowing for a more thorough review process of which regulations are effective and which are outdated or duplicative.
  • Setting a reduction goal to bring Ohio more in-line with the national average, and consider placing a cap once that goal is achieved.
  • Consider eliminating two rules for every new one that is created for the next three years, or until the reduction target is met.

The NFIB, Farm Bureau, Ohio Society of CPAs and others supported Obhof's call for additional regulatory reform in Ohio. Their statements can be found here.

Today’s press conference and presentation by the Mercatus Center is archived on The Ohio Channel. The Mercatus study "A Snapshot of Ohio Regulation in 2018" can be found here.


COLUMBUS - The following individuals and organizations support Senate President Larry Obhof's call today for additional regulatory reforms in Ohio.

An archive of the Senate President's press conference with Dr. James Broughel of the Mercatus Center can be viewed here. The Mercatus study, "A Snapshot of Ohio Regulation in 2018" can be found here.

Robert Alt, President and CEO
The Buckeye Institute

“Ohio has achieved significant reform under the leadership of Senate President Obhof, who has made rolling back unnecessary and counterproductive regulations a priority. We are pleased that new research from the Mercatus Center makes the case to continue the vital work of reducing the regulatory burden on Ohioans and their businesses. One area ripe for reform is the state’s burdensome occupational licensing regime, which has forced people to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to earn a license that in many cases does little-to-nothing to ensure the public’s health or safety. It is time to end this type of permission slip policy.”

Roger Geiger, Vice President and Executive Director
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)-Ohio
“NFIB studies show over-regulation ranks as one of the top three problems among our members. Small business owners face regulatory compliance costs that are 67 percent higher than big businesses, adding up to $19 billion a year. The study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows just how onerous it can be for someone running a business to understand all the regulation in Ohio that may impact them. We applaud Senate President Obhof for his focus on looking to reduce the regulatory burden for Ohio entrepreneurs.”
Adam J. Sharp, Executive Vice President
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
"Farmers are not opposed to regulation.  They’re opposed to regulations that accomplish no proven benefit, are in conflict with one another and are changed arbitrarily.  Farm Bureau supports efforts to protect all Ohioans through a regulatory process that is transparent, consistent, practical, economically feasible and based on science and credible data."
Scott Wiley, President and CEO
The Ohio Society of CPAs
“CPAs work closely with Ohio business owners and have seen firsthand the negative ripple effect excessive regulations and related reporting can have on a company’s bottom line.  Complying with burdensome rules that don’t serve a reasonable public purpose cost a business time and money – resources that are much better spent growing their business and creating jobs.  OSCPA supports the Ohio Senate’s leadership in further cutting regulatory red tape.”
Gordon M. Gough, President and CEO
Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
“On behalf of our more than 7,000 members, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants appreciates the Senate’s acknowledgement that a comprehensive review of Ohio business regulations is in order. We welcome an in-depth examination to help identify overly-burdensome requirements that adversely affect the bottom lines of our members. We applaud President Obhof, Senator McColley and the members of the Ohio Senate for their continued efforts to improve the business climate in our state.”
Keith Lake, Vice President, Government Affairs
Ohio Chamber of Commerce

“Regulations have a sizable impact on free enterprise, and a disproportionate impact on small businesses. And working to reduce the impact of regulations remains a top priority for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. That’s why the Mercatus Center report we learned about today is alarming, especially the fact that Ohio’s Administrative Code contains almost 250,000 regulatory restrictions – nearly twice as many as the average state and vastly more than our neighboring states. Through the Common Sense Initiative, Ohio has made some great strides since 2011 in cutting bureaucratic red tape and making sure agency regulations are as effective and business-friendly as possible. In fact, CSI has rescinded more than 1,000 rules and amended more than 1,200 other rules, which has helped make Ohio’s rules more job-friendly. The Mercatus Center report shows even more common sense may be necessary to make Ohio more attractive for job growth.”

Joe Rosato, Director, Government Affairs
Ohio Restaurant Association
“The Ohio restaurant industry serves thousands of customers whose health and safety is a top priority. In addition to federal regulations, complicated and excessive state regulations hinder opportunities for growth among our members. The ORA supports any common sense initiatives that progress the restaurant and foodservice industry, employing more than 575,000 and 10% of Ohio’s workforce, while maintaining the highest standards of safety.”

COLUMBUS—State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Chair of the Joint House and Senate Tax Expenditure Review Committee, today announced a meeting of the committee has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.

The committee was created in House Bill 9 of the 131st General Assembly to review all current tax expenditures at least once every eight years and make recommendations on whether each tax expenditure should be continued, modified, repealed or scheduled for further review at a later time.

The following five tax expenditures will be reviewed during the April 11 meeting:

  • Sales to churches and certain other non-profit organizations
    ORC 5739.02(B)(12), Department of Tax Code 1.01
  • Sales to the state, any of its political subdivisions and certain other states
    ORC 5739.02(B)(1), Department of Tax Code 1.02
  • Sales by churches and certain types of non-profit organizations
    ORC 5739.02(B)(9), Department of Tax Code 1.03
  • Tangible personal property used primarily in manufacturing tangible personal property
    ORC 5739.02(B)(42)(g), Department of Tax Code 1.04
  • Packaging and packaging equipment
    ORC 5739.02(B)(15), Department of Tax Code 1.05

For those planning to testify, an electronic copy of their testimony and a completed witness slip must be sent to anna.hays@ohiosenate.gov by 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 10. The committee requests the following information from witnesses:

  • The fiscal impact of each expenditure on the state and local taxing authorities.
  • The public policy objectives of each expenditure, whether the expenditure has been successful in accomplishing its policy objective, and whether that objective might be better accomplished through appropriations or another, less costly method.
  • The unintended consequences of each expenditure, including its positive or negative effects on the Ohio economy and job market, and whether the expenditure creates an unfair competitive advantage.
  • Suggestions for retention, modification or repeal of the expenditure.

Additional meetings of the Tax Expenditure Review Committee have been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 25 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 9. Specific tax expenditures to be reviewed at these meetings will be provided in advance.


Legislative Leaders Announce $2.62B Investment In Ohio's Local Communities Through Capital Bill
Bill funds repairs and improvements to Ohio's schools, infrastructure and public services and significantly increases investment in opioid, mental health and addiction services
February 26, 2018

COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Speaker of the House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today introduced the state's Capital Budget, a $2.62 billion investment in Ohio's infrastructure and local community projects. 
The legislature generally approves a capital budget every two years with the goal of funding needed improvements to public services and facilities across the state, including schools, roads and bridges, waterways and parks. The companion bills introduced today in each chamber also increase the capital investment in mental health and addiction services facilities.
“The state capital budget plays a major role in bringing jobs and opportunities to our hometowns, and we are able to make these investments because of responsible management of the state’s finances,” said Obhof. “I appreciate the partnership of the Speaker and the administration in working with our local communities to understand their needs and priorities.”

"This capital budget will give the legislature a tremendous opportunity to address several infrastructure and construction projects that will generate a positive return on investment for communities all across the state," said Rosenberger. "I want to commend the members of the legislature and local leaders for their collaboration and commitment to helping improve the lives of so many Ohioans through this legislation."

“Over the last several months, we’ve worked hand in hand with local government and community leaders to understand what is most needed locally,” added Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “I’m especially pleased that we were able to increase funding for opioid, mental health and addiction services. These investments will help improve the lives of Ohioans around the state."

"I appreciate the members of both the House and Senate working together to ensure that this bill benefits Ohioans throughout the state," added Rep. Scott Ryan (R-Granville Township), Vice Chair of the House Finance Committee. "I look forward to seeing the enhancements in our communities that are made because of the efforts that were put into the individual projects."



Supporting Ohio's Schools

  • $600 million will be invested in local school construction, including repairs, renovations and maintenance for primary and secondary facilities.
  • Over $483 million will be invested in projects supporting Ohio’s 37 public colleges and universities.

Supporting Ohio's Infrastructure

  • $514 million will go to local infrastructure projects through the Public Works Commission, including local roads, bridges, water-supply systems, storm sewers and wastewater systems. 
  • This includes $100 million to support the Clean Ohio program, which funds the preservation of green space, farmland, open spaces and expanded recreational opportunities.
  • Over $234 million for the maintenance and preservation of Ohio’s dams, parks, trails, waterways and wildlife.

Supporting Ohioans in Need

  • Nearly $222 million will be invested in critical health and human services funding for youth services, developmental disabilities, mental health, addiction treatment and women’s health initiatives, over double the amount spent in the last capital budget.
  • This includes $20 million for new opioid community resiliency projects.

Supporting Ohio's Communities

  • Nearly $150 million will be used for economic development and cultural projects of local and regional importance to boost growth and increase opportunities throughout the state, in addition to supporting the healthcare projects above.
  • A full list of local projects by county and agency will be available online atwww.lsc.ohio.gov by the time the Senate and House Finance committees meet on Tuesday, February 27.

The companion bills were introduced today in the Ohio Senate as Senate Bill 266 and in the Ohio House as House Bill 529 and are available for review at www.legislature.ohio.gov. Hearings begin Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Senate Finance Committee and 11:00 a.m. in the House Finance Committee and will be broadcast live by The Ohio Channel and streamed at www.OhioSenate.gov and www.OhioHouse.gov.  
For more information on the Capital Budget bill process, visit http://www.obm.ohio.gov/budget/capital/.


Columbus – With unanimous, bipartisan support, the Ohio Senate today passed a plan to reform the process for drawing Ohio’s congressional districts. The passage of Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 5 follows weeks of negotiations between the leadership of both parties in the General Assembly and various redistricting reform coalitions.

“This plan establishes a responsible map making process that requires bipartisan support and keeps communities together,” said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina).

The reforms keep communities together by limiting divisions of counties, townships and municipalities.

  • Sub. S.J.R. 5 specifies that at least 65 counties will be kept whole and limits how many total county splits can occur.
  • Cleveland and Cincinnati will remain whole within their districts.

The plan requires significant support from both parties, ensuring a map with bipartisan approval.

  • Step one: A 10-year map proposed by the General Assembly requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber with 50% of the minority party’s vote. If there is no agreement on the initial map, the process moves to the bipartisan Redistricting Commission, which Ohio voters approved in 2015.
  • Step two: A 10-year map drawn by the 7-member Commission requires two minority votes to pass. If that effort fails, the map drawing responsibility moves back to the legislature.
  • Step three: A 10-year map requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber with a one-third vote of the minority party. If the required votes are not obtained, a 4-year map can be passed with a simple majority, but it cannot be drawn to unduly favor or disfavor one political party.

More highlights include:

  • Preserving and protecting voters' civil rights.
  • Protecting the governor’s ability to veto a map.
  • Maintaining Ohioans’ ability to file a referendum against a congressional map.
  • Clarifying that a court challenge can be brought to an entire map not just individual districts.

Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima), sponsor of Sub. S.J.R. 5, added, “This plan ends the process of stretching districts far across the state, while maintaining the importance of the historic Voting Rights Act. I appreciate the long hours and hard work that many put into reaching today’s solution, and I’m proud of the plan we are able to deliver to the people of Ohio.”

Sub. S.J.R. 5 now moves to the Ohio House for consideration. Once passed by the General Assembly, Sub. S.J.R. 5 will go to the May ballot for Ohio voters to approve.
# # #

GUEST COLUMN: A Look Back At 2017
A guest column by Senate President Larry Obhof
January 04, 2018
As we begin the new year, we have passed the halfway point for the 132nd General Assembly, the two-year cycle for introducing and enacting new legislation.  As I look back at the past twelve months, I am proud that my colleagues and I have worked to keep our commitments to the people of our great state. 
When the legislature kicked things off in January 2017, the Senate majority members announced our priority legislation – the first ten bills that we introduced.  These dealt with issues important to Ohioans, including increasing penalties for drug traffickers who sell deadly fentanyl; protecting our environment and Ohio’s water quality; improving workforce development efforts; investing in infrastructure in our local communities; and streamlining government and lowering Ohioans’ tax burdens.
This wasn’t empty rhetoric. Members of the Senate worked hard to keep our commitments to Ohioans.  We passed all ten of these priority bills in 2017, and the Governor has now signed seven of those bills into law, either as stand-alone legislation or as part of the state’s biennial budget. 
Perhaps most important, in June the Senate passed a biennial operating budget that is balanced, conservative and fiscally responsible. We faced significant challenges along the way, with state revenues missing estimates and the legislature facing a budget gap of nearly $1.1 billion. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Despite the tough fiscal situation, we balanced the budget while investing more than $200 million of additional state funding into our local schools and making historic new investments into the fight against opioid abuse. 
We have also fought to provide tax relief to the hard working men and women of our state. The budget bill eliminated Ohio’s two lowest income tax brackets, providing tax relief to those who need it most. The budget bill doubled the amount that you can save tax-free for your child’s college education and renewed the state’s popular back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday for 2018. Finally, the bill provided much-needed relief to Ohio’s farmers by making long-overdue changes to the state’s formula for valuing agricultural land.  
The Senate continued these efforts in the second half of the year. This fall the Senate authorized tax credits to incentivize job creation and economic development in rural, underserved areas of the state (also known as the “Rural Jobs Act”). We also provided relief to Ohio’s families by exempting corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses from sales and use taxes, beginning July 1, 2019.  In short, while we improved the state’s finances and passed a balanced budget, we also made sure that you are able to keep more of your hard-earned money. 
The Senate works for you, for We the People, and as Senate President I have tried to make the legislative process more accessible to Ohioans all across our state. In 2017, I expanded television coverage of the Senate’s work to include several important committees and made those proceedings available on OhioSenate.gov, on the Ohio Channel online (OhioChannel.org) and on local public access broadcast stations. The inner workings of the legislature are now accessible from your homes and on your smartphones.
And in contrast to the common perception of politics, in the Ohio Senate Republicans and Democrats are working together to find common solutions to Ohio’s problems. Of course, there will always be areas of disagreement, but in 2017 more than 90% of the bills that passed the Senate received a bipartisan vote.
It has been an honor to serve our community in the Ohio Senate and to serve the State of Ohio as the Senate’s leader for the 132nd General Assembly. In 2018, my colleagues and I remain focused on moving Ohio forward, and we will continue to make your priorities our priorities. I hope to hear your ideas about how to improve our great state. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas about any issue facing Ohio, you can reach me at obhof@ohiosenate.gov or by calling me at (614) 466-7505. You may also reach me by mail at State Senator Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.
# # #

COLUMBUS - Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced today the application process to fill a vacancy in Ohio’s 1st Senate District seat, which encompasses all of Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert and Williams counties as well as portions of Auglaize, Fulton and Logan counties in northwest Ohio.

Former Senator Cliff Hite resigned from the position earlier this week.

The Senate Republican Caucus is responsible by law for appointing a temporary replacement to the seat. The appointee will serve for the remainder of the current term, ending in December 2018. The person appointed to the vacancy must seek election on the 2018 ballot if that person intends to seek an additional term.

The Senate Republican Caucus will accept applications for the vacancy until 4 p.m. on Monday, November 6, 2017. Applications may include a resume, letters of recommendation and any other supporting material considered relevant to the applicant's qualifications. The materials should be sent or hand-delivered to the following address:

The Honorable Larry Obhof
President, Ohio Senate
The Ohio Statehouse
1 Capitol Square, Room 201
Columbus, OH 43215

Please send an identical copy of the application to the Senate Chief of Staff:

Jason Mauk
Chief of Staff, Ohio Senate
The Ohio Statehouse
1 Capitol Square, Room 201
Columbus, OH 43215

The applicant screening and selection process will take place in early November. Applicants are expected to be available to meet in person with the screening committee.


COLUMBUS—Ohio House Speaker Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the creation of a working group to review and reform Ohio’s congressional redistricting process. 

State Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and State Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) will co-chair the working group. Leaders of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses have been invited to participate, but at this point have yet to select a member for the panel. 

The working group will review current law, explore possible reforms, gather public input and make recommendations to the legislative leaders by early December. The General Assembly would then consider whether to proceed with a redistricting reform resolution to place before Ohio voters. The deadline for considering such a proposal on the 2018 primary election ballot is February 7, however the General Assembly has the authority to put a proposal on the ballot at any date of its choosing. 

“Redistricting has been an issue that several states, including Ohio, have been giving a closer look at in recent years,” said Speaker Rosenberger. “With the responsibility of redrawing congressional districts quickly approaching, we feel the issue deserves thorough review and consideration, with the goal of finding common-sense reforms that will lead to a redistricting process that all interested parties can agree on. I believe the creation of this panel, which I hope will be bipartisan, will yield an open exchange of ideas and input from varying perspectives.”

“I'm confident we can have a meaningful, bipartisan conversation about redistricting that can potentially show us a path forward to reform,” said Senate President Obhof. “I know that because we've been here before, particularly in the Senate, where we've been able to pass bipartisan congressional redistricting reforms twice in the last decade. I'm hopeful this dialogue will lead us again to a fair, constitutional process that we can take to Ohioans for consideration.” 

The working group is expected to begin holding meetings as soon as this month. Specific details on times and locations will be forthcoming.


COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced funding awarded today for special response teams aimed at putting drug overdose survivors on the path to recovery.

Consisting of highly trained law enforcement and drug treatment providers, DARTs (Drug Abuse Response Teams) and QRTs (Quick Response Teams) provide support and consultation to overdose survivors. The specialized response teams offer counseling and referrals to drug rehabilitation facilities so those struggling with addiction can find the help necessary for successful recovery.

Funding for these grants was added by the Ohio Senate as part of an overall related effort to tackle the opioid crisis by improving education, treatment, addiction and recovery efforts and stepping up law enforcement.

“We are committed to fighting the scourge of addiction, and I’m pleased we were able to fund these grants as part of the new state budget," said President Obhof.

Coordinated by the Attorney General’s office, these grants expand and support these critical response teams in communities throughout Ohio.

Among the local agencies receiving funds are the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, the Mansfield Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

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Obhof Discusses Regulatory Reforms Necessary For Ohio's Economic Prosperity


COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today called for additional reforms of Ohio’s regulatory environment. He was joined by Dr. James Broughel of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who recently completed a study on the number of regulatory restrictions the state imposes, and Robert Alt, President and CEO of the Buckeye Institute.


Strong Support For Additional Regulatory Reform In Ohio


COLUMBUS - The following individuals and organizations support Senate President Larry Obhof's call today for additional regulatory reforms in Ohio.


Oelslager Announces Meeting Schedule For Tax Expenditure Review Committee


COLUMBUS—State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Chair of the Joint House and Senate Tax Expenditure Review Committee, today announced a meeting of the committee has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.


Legislative Leaders Announce $2.62B Investment In Ohio's Local Communities Through Capital Bill


COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and Speaker of the House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today introduced the state's Capital Budget, a $2.62 billion investment in Ohio's infrastructure and local community projects.