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.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

COLUMBUS—The following statement can be attributed to Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina):

"Harry Meshel was not only a respected and beloved member of our Ohio Senate family, but also part of the historic fabric of our institution. For more than two decades, Meshel delivered for the people of the Mahoning Valley, including obtaining substantial investments that helped make Youngstown State University what it is today. His memory and legacy will live on for many years to come. On behalf of my colleagues, I extend our deepest condolences to the Meshel family at this time of loss."

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—On Friday, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced the appointment of State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) to the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation.

State lawmakers established the foundation in 1999 in an effort to promote economic revitalization in southern Ohio's tobacco-producing counties.

"I'm honored to join this distinguished group of community leaders as we promote opportunities that help spur job creation here in southern Ohio," said Uecker. "Programs supported by the foundation also play an important role in improving quality of life for families across the region."

The Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation is charged with developing and carrying out programs to help replace the production of tobacco with other agricultural products and to mitigate the adverse economic impact of reduced tobacco production in the 22 burley tobacco growing counties in southern Ohio.

A 12-member Board of Trustees governs the Foundation, while day-to-day operations are overseen by an executive director and two other employees.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced that the governor signed legislation this week aimed at strengthening penalties for violent offenders. House Bill 63 would increase penalties for felonious assaults where the perpetrator uses an accelerant to burn his or her victim. The new law was introduced by Representative Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) after Gahanna resident Judy Malinowski was doused in gasoline and set on fire in August 2015 by her estranged boyfriend.
 
Judy passed away in June after undergoing more than 50 surgeries in the 22-month period following her attack.
 
“Judy's tragic story highlighted a particularly heinous type of crime, which leads to permanent disfigurement or even death,” said President Obhof, who co-sponsored the bill. “No one should have to suffer through what she experienced over the past two years. This new law will ensure that prison sentences more accurately reflect the severity and cruelty of these types of attacks.” 
 
House Bill 63 creates a six-year specification to be added to the attacker’s prison term. This would apply to felonious assaults, where the offender uses an accelerant in committing the offense and the harm suffered by the victim results in a permanent, serious disfigurement or permanent, substantial incapacity. 
 
Despite her condition before her passing, Judy Malinowski continued to speak out about domestic violence and made every effort to make others aware of the dangers of domestic violence. She bravely recorded video testimony encouraging lawmakers to adopt House Bill 63.
 
House Bill 63 goes into effect October 15, which is 90 days after the governor signed the bill into law.
 
Making Government More Efficient
 
President Obhof also announced that the governor has signed House Bill 103, which makes changes to the membership of financial planning and supervision commissions that assist local governments in escaping from fiscal emergency. Obhof co-sponsored the bill, which revises who makes appointments to planning and supervision commissions. Importantly, the bill also requires that appointees to the commissions be appointed in 15 days, whereas it can now take up to a year to seat a commission.  
 
“House Bill 103 gives local governments options as they take steps toward solvency,” said President Obhof. “These changes will help local governments recover more quickly from fiscal distress.” 
 
The bill was supported during the legislative process by State Auditor Dave Yost and passed the Senate in late June. It goes into effect October 15.

 
 
  
 
Helping Families Save On Back-to-School Shopping: Ohio Sales Tax Holiday Set For August 4-6
A Guest Column by Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof
July 18, 2017
 
 

Back-to-school shopping can be tough on families, as you try to stretch every dollar as far as it can go. Clothing, books, pens, notepads… it all really starts to add up. In the Ohio Senate, we know that Ohio’s families could use some help, and we are committed easing the burdens that government adds to the mix. That is why, for the third year in a row, the General Assembly has passed the Ohio Sales Tax Holiday to assist parents during the back-to-school shopping season.
 
Two years ago we enacted Ohio’s first 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. We renewed that program in 2016 and Ohio families were once again able to save money while buying necessities.  

This year, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 9 to renew the Sales Tax Holiday for 2017. Beginning Friday, August 4 and running through Sunday, August 6, families can take advantage of this unique tax-free weekend when purchasing select items. But the benefits don’t stop there – over the past two years retailers have offered additional discounts to coincide with the tax holiday weekend. 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 tax is meant to ease the burden for families and ensure that students have the items necessary to succeed in the classroom.
 
Ohioans saved millions of dollars on back-to-school items during the prior Sales Tax Holidays, and stores saw significant boosts in statewide retail sales. 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 athttp://www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/SalesTaxHoliday.aspx. And as always, if you have any questions about the Sales Tax Holiday or any other issue, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me at Obhof@OhioSenate.gov or by calling my office at (614) 466-7505.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) welcomed Ohio Dairy Producers to the Ohio Senate on Wednesday, presenting them with a resolution to commemorate the month of June as National Dairy Month. 

"It is an honor to recognize Ohio's Dairy Producers for their contributions to the food agricultural industry in this state," said Peterson. "Ice cream is one of the best parts of summer. For this delicious treat, we owe our gratitude to the hard working men and women who rise before daybreak every day to tend to their cows in the milking parlors. Ohio's dairy farmers love the work that they do, and we love that they do it."

Ohio is home to 270,000 dairy cows that live on 2,500 farms and produce more than 630 million gallons of milk annually. Dairy farmers contribute an average of $2.35 billion annually to the state's economy, which generates an annual average of $436 million in earnings and more than 14,400 jobs.

National Dairy Month was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus but has since developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions the dairy industry has made to the world.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate gave approval today to its version of the state's biennial operating budget (Am. Sub. House Bill 49). The bill invests in essential public services, maintains historic levels of state aid for education and preserves key tax reforms while reducing government overhead and closing a projected revenue shortfall of roughly $1 billion.

"This budget is fiscally responsible while investing in the citizens and priorities of this state," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). "I'm proud of the work we were able to accomplish to keep our state healthy and our future hopeful."

Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee added, "This was a very tight budget, but we listened carefully to Ohioans to understand their priorities and expectations of financial stability for the state of Ohio."

Below are major highlights of the Senate-passed version of the budget:

Reducing Government Spending and Increasing Efficiency

  • With the state facing a projected shortfall of just over $1 billion, the Senate reduced government overhead by cutting administrative costs across state agencies an average of 3-4 percent and finding tens of millions in excess or unspent funds. This cost savings was managed with the goal of minimal impact on actual services provided.
  • The Senate also included a process for the legislature to review each executive agency every two years prior to the biennial budget with the goal of limiting duplicative state programs and ensuring the responsible allocation of state resources.
  • This budget also eliminates or combines several state boards and commissions.


Protecting Vital Services and Programs

  • The Senate restored funding cuts to several essential services, including food banks, breast and cervical cancer screening programs, and clean water and food safety programs.
  • The Senate also included additional funding for crisis pregnancy centers, Teach for America and Special Olympics, among other essential programs.
  • Funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, especially for pregnant women and new mothers, was increased to $25 million.
  • Over $22 million was allocated for workforce training programs in the Appalachia region of Ohio, a significant increase.


Reforming Healthcare

  • The fallout from Obamacare has left many Ohio counties without adequate health care insurance options. As the program continues to be financially unsustainable, the Senate instituted reforms to both contain growth and ensure access to Medicaid services for Ohioans who need them most. This includes requiring the state to file a Section 1332 Innovation Waiver by January 2018 to get Ohio more flexibility to regulate its own insurance market, free of federal mandates.
  • It also controls costs by seeking a Section 1115 waiver for the "Healthy Ohio" program, freezing Medicaid expansion in July 2018 and allowing the state the ability to hit the pause button while the Senate evaluates federal changes.


Maintaining Investments in Education

  • Total state aid investments since 2013 have resulted in overall state per pupil increases of 30.5%. The Senate plan calls for an additional $154 million in state foundation aid for K-12 education in FY18 and an additional $120 million in FY19. 
  • The Senate continued to prioritize college affordability, removing a provision that would have permitted unlimited increases in tuition under the Ohio Tuition Guarantee Program, and increased funding by more than $208 million for need-based financial aid.
  • This budget increases funding for libraries across the state.


Fighting Ohio's Opiate Epidemic

  • The Senate includes roughly $180 million in additional funding to fight Ohio's opiate crisis, on top of the nearly $1 billion already spent by the state annual on drug abuse and addiction.
  • Included is $60 million in funding for child protective services and programs to support children in drug-affected families; an additional $2 million dollars over the biennium to support county coroners and criminal and forensic labs who are facing case overload issues; maintaining $20 million capital commitment for the expansion of treatment and recovery housing; funding critical upgrades to the OARRS system, a statewide effort to track prescriptions and combat prescription abuse, and adding a $5 million investment to help counties establish drug abuse response teams, among other initiatives. 


Returning More Tax Dollars to Ohioans

  • This budget eliminates the bottom two tax brackets, simplifying tax code and ensuring no Ohioan earning below $10,500 will pay income tax.
  • The Senate doubled the tax deduction families can take for college savings, as well as for the ABLE program, which allows families of children with disabilities to save for expense associated with caring for them.
  • The bill updates the state's CAUV policy for valuing land for agricultural purposes to ensure that the taxes paid by farmers are more closely tied to the income-producing potential of the land.
  • Also included is the Rural Jobs Act, which incentivizes agricultural job creation and economic development in the rural underserved areas of the state.
  • Ohio's popular Sales Tax Holiday, which provides tax relief for families and encourages retail sales and tourism, has been extended to 2018.

The bill now returns to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be referred to a conference committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The Ohio Constitution requires a balanced budget signed by the governor by June 30.

 
 
  
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Senate President Announces Process To Fill 1st Senate District Vacancy

 

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.



 
 

Legislative Leaders Announce Creation Of Redistricting Working Group

 

“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.”



 
 

Obhof Announces Funding For Drug Overdose Response Teams

 

“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.