COLUMBUS - 

On Tuesday, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Substitute House Bill 49, the state operating budget. Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) successfully championed and added seven key amendments to the budget bill.


“The opportunity to shape Ohio’s budget was exciting. My amendments will positively impact Ohioans and make our state stronger,” said Representative Merrin.


Remove Sales Tax on Prescription Eyewear
Representative Merrin successfully added a provision to remove the sales and use tax on prescription eyewear, including lenses, frames, and contacts effective July 1, 2019. Taxpayers will save an estimated $25 million annually.


Shield Business Income from School District Income Taxes
Representative Merrin’s amendment removed a provision in the budget bill that would have effectively enabled about 41 Ohio school districts to assess their income tax on earned income on the first $250,000 of a taxpayer’s business income. By striking that provision, current law remains unchanged.


University Sick Days Reduced from 15 to 10 Days
Representative Merrin inserted an amendment reducing the number of state-mandated sick days for public universities and college employees from 15 days to 10. The overly generous allotment of sick days would now align with state employees who receive 10 sick days annually.


Lead Safety and Uniformity
Representative Merrin successfully added an amendment solidifying the Ohio Department of Health’s sole and exclusive authority to regulate lead abatement activities. It reaffirms the Department of Health’s historical governance of lead issues and protects Ohioans from a patchwork of local laws that undermine the state’s efforts to protect citizens from lead poisoning.


Fuel Tax Transparency
Representative Merrin’s “Fuel Tax Transparency Act” was included in the budget bill. It requires a sticker to be placed on all retail fuel pumps displaying federal and state fuel tax rates. This provision will make fuel taxes more transparent to taxpayers.


Revived Cost-Savings Medicaid Pilot Program in Lucas County
Representative Merrin extended a pilot program for two years and removed unnecessary building restrictions to help providers qualify in Lucas County and select pilot counties. The pilot program enables patients to be served in high-performing nursing facilities rather than long-term care hospitals to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. Two years ago, it was estimated the program, if implemented statewide, could save Medicaid $400 million dollars annually. The program statutorily required any provider to have their facilities built on or after January 1, 2010, which effectively blocked out most providers.


Commercial Activity Tax Allocation Change
Representative Merrin’s amendment reduced the amount of tax revenue the Department of Taxation receives to administer the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). Rather than receiving 0.85 percent of the total CAT revenue, it’s slated to receive 0.75 of CAT revenue, which shifts about $1.7 million annually to the General Revenue Fund, the School District Property Tax Replacement Fund, and the Local Government Property Tax Replacement Fund. The tax revenue will now be used to provide public services as intended rather than fund bureaucratic tax administration functions.


Appointed in August of 2016, Merrin is serving in his first elected term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 47th House District in Northwest Ohio.


The budget bill is now pending in the Ohio Senate before being sent to Governor Kasich’s office for final approval.


 


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