The end of the summer can be a challenging time for families, as parents prepare their children to return to the classroom. This year, I am pleased to remind families that the General Assembly has renewed the Ohio Sales Tax Holiday to assist parents during the back-to-school shopping season. 
 
Last year was the first year for the Sales Tax Holiday – a pilot project to see how Ohio would respond to the tax-free weekend. That was a success, as Ohioans saved millions of dollars and retailers saw a significant boost in sales.

This year, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 264 to renew the Sales Tax Holiday for 2016. Beginning Friday, August 5th and running through Sunday, August 7th, families can take advantage of this unique tax-free weekend when purchasing select items, often combined with additional discounts. Both shoppers and retailers can once again benefit from this savings opportunity.
 
All shoes and clothing priced less than $75 will be exempt from state and local sales and use taxes during this period. School supplies and instructional materials priced at $20 or less will also be tax exempt. Even online vendors will be more affordable, as they will waive local and state sales taxes on designated items during the three-day tax holiday.
 
Ohio’s Sales Tax Holiday is scheduled to provide optimal savings for parents, families and educators at a time when families must stretch their dollars. This temporary relief from the sales taxes is meant to ease the burden for families and ensure that students have the items necessary to succeed in the classroom.
 
Ohioans saved approximately $3.3 million on back-to-school items during the three-day period last year, resulting in a boost in statewide retail sales of more than 6 percent in August 2015. Counties located along state lines fared even better. 
 
This is a win-win for families, businesses and most importantly, students. I was proud to support this initiative, which will help families keep more of their hard earned money.
 
For more information about Ohio's Sales Tax Holiday, including specifics on which items qualify for savings, please visit the Ohio Department of Taxation's website atwww.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/salestaxholiday/holiday.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced improved Ohio jobs numbers, showing that employers added 12,400 new jobs during June. Private sector employers have now added more than 428,000 workers to their payrolls since January 2011.

"We have made significant progress to improve Ohio’s business climate and to support private sector job creation,” Obhof said. “Lower taxes, regulatory reform and new resources to help connect employers with job seekers are paying dividends in helping to improve our economy and creating new opportunities for Ohio families."

Last year, Senator Obhof sponsored Senate Bill 26 and co-sponsored House Bill 3, which cut the filing fees for starting a new business or non-profit entity by more than 20 percent. The bill also improves access to OhioMeansJobs.com, a statewide database of job openings intended to give Ohioans greater access to job opportunities by linking employers and job seekers.

More than 150,000 positions are currently posted on OhioMeansJobs.com, with more than half of those jobs paying more than $50,000 annually.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) joined leaders from the Cincinnati region on Wednesday for a roundtable discussion with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss infrastructure concerns affecting southwest Ohio.

The deteriorating condition of the Brent-Spence Bridge and worsening congestion along Route 32 were among several topics discussed during the forum hosted by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Regional economic growth relies on our ability to connect products with markets and the workforce with the workplace," said Uecker.

Secretary Foxx acknowledged the Brent-Spence Bridge as a top priority but pointed to inter-jurisdictional disputes and approval processes as the reason for ongoing delays.

"It's obvious that bureaucracy has run amuck when the nation's top transportation official can't break through the red tape involved with this project," added Uecker. "We hope that Secretary Foxx and USDOT officials will reach an agreement with project partners in Kentucky before the risk to commuters becomes too severe for its continued use."

The 53-year-old bridge now carries twice its designed capacity and was deemed the nation's number one infrastructure emergency, according to The Hill, which is a Washington D.C.-based news publication.

Secretary Foxx's meeting with local leaders coincided with his presentation at the NAACP convention in Cincinnati. Appointed by President Obama in 2013, Secretary Foxx oversees more than 55,000 federal government employees and manages a $70 billion budget.

 
 
  
 
Ohio Sales Tax Holiday Provides Relief On Back-to-School Shopping
A Guest Column by State Senator Scott Oelslager
July 20, 2016
 
 
COLUMBUS - 

The back-to-school shopping season can be a hectic time for families and one that may leave you with a little less cash in your pockets. As back-to-school shopping quickly approaches, I am pleased to remind Ohio families that we have once again renewed the state's Sales Tax Holiday to assist parents as they prepare their children for another school year.

Ohio’s Sales Tax Holiday will begin Friday, August 5th and runs through Sunday, August 7th. Consumers and vendors will both benefit from this tax break, accompanied by unique deals on essential items and increased sales.

All shoes and clothing priced less than $75 will be exempt from state and local sales and use taxes during this time period as well as school supplies and instructional materials priced at $20 or less. The legislation also requires all online vendors to waive the collection of local and state sales taxes on designated items during the three-day tax holiday to increase access and ease for all Ohioans.

The timing of the Sales Tax Holiday is uniquely scheduled to provide the most support for parents, families and educators in what we all know can be a costly time of year. As many Ohioans develop shopping budgets and search for the best deals, this temporary relief from sales taxes eases the burden on families and helps students to reach their full potential.

Ohioans saved approximately $3.3 million on back-to-school items last year during the three-day period and statewide retail sales increased by 6.48 percent during August 2015. Counties along state lines, on average, experienced nearly 11 percent higher increases in county sales tax collections in August compared to the state average.

This is a win-win for families, businesses and most importantly, students. I was proud to support this initiative that has been championed by my colleague Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) to help families keep more of their hard earned money.

 
 
  
 
Helping Ohio's Job Creators Pay Off Unemployment Compensation Debt
A Column by State Senator Bill Beagle
July 18, 2016
 
 

Some bills we pass in the Ohio Senate generate front-page headlines and constituent emails by the hundreds, while others travel through the legislative process with little fanfare. Sometimes it’s legislation that flies under the radar that makes the greatest impact on the lives of ordinary Ohioans.

Legislation we recently passed to erase Ohio’s unemployment compensation debt is a perfect example.

This spring, the Ohio Senate passed a bill to level the mountain of debt that Ohio’s employers had to climb in order to fund unemployment benefits for Ohioans out of work. Ohio had borrowed heavily from the federal government during the Great Recession, and it was time to pay the piper.

In early 2009, Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund went completely broke after months of staggeringly high unemployment. During that economic downturn the state’s unemployment rate had spiked to a 26-year high, and we had squeezed every last penny out of our unemployment compensation fund. In response, the businesses in the state borrowed more than $2 billion from a federal trust fund in order to continue paying jobless benefits struggling families needed to get by. At the beginning of this year, the state’s businesses still owed $300 million on that debt.

A debt of $300 million may not sound like much to citizens accustomed to a federal government that owes trillions, but Ohio’s job creators feel the direct impact through the unemployment taxes they pay.

Ohio businesses under normal conditions pay $42 per employee per year in unemployment taxes. Because of the outstanding debt, the federal government was set to increase those penalties from $147 per employee per year to $168 per employee for 2017. After accounting for Ohio’s roughly 5 million employees, we were looking at a total of a half a billion dollars in unnecessary federal taxes on Ohio businesses.

We know that every dollar paid in unemployment taxes is one less dollar for employers to invest in Ohio’s people and economy. When small businesses employ half of the workforce, extra taxation can mean the difference between hiring and firing, expanding or shrinking. As a state, we’ve come too far to let that happen.

When employers asked the legislature to act to eliminate their debt, we listened. We worked with local and regional businesses and partnerships to develop a solution to the mounting problem. We formulated a plan to temporarily use a portion of Ohio’s unclaimed funds in order to pay back the original federal loan this fall. The solution allows the state to repay the remainder of the federal debt, which then reverts unemployment taxes on our businesses to normal levels and avoids the crushing new federal penalties. All tallied, this will save Ohio businesses an estimated savings of over $400 million, that instead of being sent to Washington, can now be used to hire, train and invest in the workforce and our economy here in Ohio.

Widely praised by the business community, the plan to repay Ohio’s unemployment debt burden is an essential piece of the legislative effort to lighten the burden on job creators. When job creators have the resources to expand their operations and bring more employees on board, our economy grows. Our state thrives. We still have work to do, but we’re on the right track.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced today the awarding of state funds to the Clear Fork Valley Local School District to complete the first segment of an elementary facilities construction project.

The funds will go toward the construction of two new elementary schools to house grades pre-kindergarten thru 5. The state will contribute just over $15 million to the project with a local share of nearly $10 million for a total project budget of roughly $26 million.

"This is a significant new investment in the local community," said Obhof. "I'm looking forward to seeing these projects progress in the near future."

The Ohio School Facilities Commission approved the funding as part of the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program. Clear Fork Valley Local Schools is one of 14 school districts and one STEM Compact School that will benefit from projects across the state totaling $950.7 million in combined funds. All funding awards are contingent upon State Controlling Board approval.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today highlighted the latest report by Secretary of State Jon Husted showing that 8,480 new entities filed to do business in Ohio last month, an increase of more than 300 new businesses as compared to June 2015.

The report continues the positive trend of new business filings in Ohio as each month in 2016 has outpaced the number of filings last year, with over 4,300 more entities filing to do business in Ohio this year than at the same point in 2015.

"Ohio is on track to break its record for new business formations," said Obhof. "This is good news, but we need to build on this momentum by continuing to improve the state's business climate."

In the last five years Ohio has experienced a 21.8 percent increase in new business filings. In 2015, Senator Obhof sponsored Senate Bill 26 and co-sponsored House Bill 3, which cut the filing fees for starting a new business or non-profit entity by more than 20 percent.

Ohio is now the least expensive state in which to start and maintain a business in the region.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) announced today the approval of additional state funds for the Lancaster City School District school construction project.

The funds will go toward the initial phase of construction of two new middle schools to house grades 6 thru 8. The state will contribute nearly $22 million to the project, with a local share of approximately $26 million for a total project budget of roughly $48 million.

"These funds will go a long way in the Lancaster district's continued efforts to provide students with facilities that allow them to succeed," said Balderson. "I'm pleased that the Ohio School Facilities Commission has awarded these funds and look forward to the progress that is soon to come."

The Ohio School Facilities Commission approved the funding as part of the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program. The district recently built five elementary schools under the Exceptional Needs Program.

Lancaster is one of 14 school districts and one STEM Compact School that will benefit from projects totaling $950.7 million in state and local funds. All funding awards are contingent upon State Controlling Board approval.

 
 
  

State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) issued the following statement in response to the passing of Former State Representative & Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael:

"Today our community mourns the loss of a truly outstanding public servant. I was privileged to know Jim as a friend and mentor when I was just starting out in public service. My prayers are with his wife Carolyn, his family and friends and everyone else he has impacted over the years. As we grieve his absence, let's celebrate his lifelong commitment to serving the people of Ohio."

 
 
  
Senator Hackett joins Senator Tavares and legislative staff to make large donation to Mid-Ohio Foodbank

Today Senator Bob Hackett (R-London) joined Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) and legislative staff in donating over 33,000 pounds of food to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in central and eastern Ohio.

Staff from the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives participated in an internal food drive called Operation Feed. They collectively donated a total of 33,000 pounds of food and $3,000 in cash donations, which will provide 39,500 meals to local residents. For every $1 donated, Mid-Ohio Food bank distributes $10 worth of groceries. 

"We're proud to support our friends at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank as they continue to serve those in need with compassion and effectiveness," said Hackett.

 
 
  
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Ohio Employers Create More Than 12,000 New Jobs In June

 
COLUMBUS - 

"We have made significant progress to improve Ohio’s business climate and to support private sector job creation,” Obhof said. “Lower taxes, regulatory reform and new resources to help connect employers with job seekers are paying dividends in helping to improve our economy and creating new opportunities for Ohio families."



 
 

Local Leaders Express Infrastructure Concerns With U.S. Transportation Secretary

 
COLUMBUS - 

"Regional economic growth relies on our ability to connect products with markets and the workforce with the workplace," said Uecker. 



 
 

Helping Ohio's Job Creators Pay Off Unemployment Compensation Debt

 

When employers asked the legislature to act to eliminate their debt, we listened. 



 
 

Ohio's June New Business Filing Numbers Continue To Outpace Records

 
COLUMBUS - 

"Ohio is on track to break its record for new business formations," said Obhof. "This is good news, but we need to build on this momentum by continuing to improve the state's business climate."