COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today concurred on House Bill 6, legislation that extends the limitation time for prosecuting rape or sexual battery from 20 to 25 years.


“I am pleased that this legislation passed both chambers with unanimous support, reinforcing our overwhelming support of immediate justice for survivors of one of the worst crimes imaginable – sexual assault,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp.), one of the lead bill sponsors. “This important legislation ensures those survivors whose cases are nearing the statute of limitations will still be able to pursue justice and see their attackers held accountable. They deserve that renewed hope, after all they’ve been through, and I’m humbled to have played a small role in that process.”


Current law prohibits prosecution of offenses such as rape and sexual battery more than 20 years after the attack.  If the survivor is a minor, the 20-year statute of limitations commences when they reach age 18.  House Bill 6 stipulates that, in cases where a DNA record made in connection with the criminal investigation matches another DNA record of an identifiable person, there are two potential options:



  1. If the determination is made after 25 years of the offense occurring, then prosecution of that person for the offense may begin within five years after the determination

  2. If the determination is made within 25 years of the offense occurring, then prosecution of the offender may begin within whatever period of time is longer: 25 years after the offense is committed or five years after the determination


“This bill provides a greater opportunity to secure justice for survivors,” said Rep. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), who cosponsored the bill. “I am committed to not allowing another day go by where a criminal escapes prosecution for such heinous crimes.”


Beyond just rape or sexual battery, House Bill 6 also includes conspiracy or attempt to commit, or complicity in committing, rape or sexual battery.


House Bill 6 now awaits the governor’s consideration.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

Today, the Ohio House of Representatives concurred on Senate changes to House Joint Resolution 4, a resolution that would block any proposal of a constitutional amendment that would create a monopoly in the state.


Sponsored by State Representatives Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff), HJR 4 calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot for the upcoming general election that would ensure that monopolies cannot be created through the use of constitutional amendments. This would block any upcoming initiatives that create a monopoly from becoming effective in the Ohio Constitution because constitutionally, pending the passage of two conflicting amendments, the one with the most votes prevails.


Rep. Smith issued the following statement on the passage of the resolution:


“The changes implemented by the Ohio Senate on H.J.R.4 ensure that the language in the resolution is solid enough to defend against constitutional monopolies, and I’m pleased today that the House has concurred on the resolution. It is important that state officials, elected by the people, protect our constitution from being exploited by a small group of individuals who will financially benefit from a constitutional amendment that supports monopolies. With guidelines in place to make certain that Ohioans can still place economic monopoly measures on the ballot, we have ensured that the process is more careful and thought-out for the well-being of Ohioans and our constitution.”

 
 
  
 
State Reps. Brown, Ginter Champion Legislation To Simplify Prescription Process
House Bill 116 would provide for partial drug prescription refills, expand "med sync" in Ohio
June 30, 2015
 
 
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 116 with broad bipartisan support. This bill, sponsored by State Representatives Tim Ginter and Tim Brown seeks to provide for partial drug prescription refills for the purpose of synchronizing multiple prescriptions for one patient.


“I am very proud to have sponsored this legislation, which will have a real, positive impact on Ohioans who are balancing multiple prescriptions every month,” said Ginter. “Being able to fill all of your drugs at one time per month will make life easier for patients and caregivers, saving time, money, and countless trips to the pharmacy. Additionally, this will improve the relationship between the pharmacist and the patient. Most importantly, this will improve health outcomes for millions of Ohioans.”


The bill is an attempt to enact a process known as “medical synchronization”, or “med sync”, in Ohio. “Med sync” simplifies patient and caregiver lives by reducing the amount of visits that a patient needs to make to the pharmacy to get his or her needed medication, allowing them to permissively participate in a process with their physician and pharmacist to align their medications so that they can be refilled on the same day.


“Allowing individuals to decide when to synchronize their prescription pick up date will increase adherence to the medications they have been prescribed, yielding better health outcomes and lower overall medical costs,” said Brown.


Currently, some pharmacies and Medicare Part D allow the use of a “med sync” program. HB 116 would extend this process to commercial plans and Medicaid, keeping patients on track with their medication, boosting adherence to their physician-recommended treatment, and making the process more affordable for Ohioans.


HB 116 now moves to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) is pleased to announce that Governor John Kasich has signed into law a bill aimed at making it easier to create new businesses in Ohio.


House Bill 3, which Rep. Romanchuk cosponsored with Rep. Tim Derickson (R-Hanover Twp.), reduces filing fees for small businesses and entrepreneurs, all with the intent of continuing Ohio’s momentum related to workforce development and job creation. It also strives to update the state’s job-searching website, “Ohio Means Jobs.”


“I applaud Governor Kasich for signing this very important bill into law,” Romanchuk said. “This legislation will provide added encouragement to Ohio’s entrepreneurs, and to those wishing to come to Ohio, to establish new businesses and create jobs.”


To initiate a new business, owners are required to file with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. House Bill 3 lowers the filing fee from $125 to $99—a reduction of 21 percent, making it cheaper and easier for small businesses to get started in Ohio. According to bill testimony, in 2014, 93,775 businesses filed in 2014, setting a record number of business filings over the last five years.


Streamlining access to the job search site, OhioMeansJobs, was also a priority of the bill. The legislation works to ensure that Ohio-based companies that are in good standing have access to the website and its various functions by developing deadlines for employers to have equal access over the next 18-24 months. The bill also requires that Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) annually report information regarding usage on the site including the number of jobs posted by employers and the number of resumes on the site that were aggregated from other websites.

 
 
  
 
Conference Report On State Operating Budget Passes Ohio House
Am. Sub. H.B. 64 sent to Governor for his signature
June 26, 2015
 
 
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today approved the conference committee report for Amended Substitute House Bill 64, which is the state operating budget. The legislation lowers the income tax, ensures adequate funding for Ohio schools, freezes tuition costs on colleges and helps small businesses. It is now being sent to the Governor for his signature.


“I believe the budget proposal we have passed today is an example of an important collaborative effort between the House, the Senate and the Governor, and it will work to benefit the overall quality of life for the people of Ohio,” Speaker Rosenberger said. “Our goal of cutting taxes for hardworking Ohioans, ensuring funding for schools and supporting important initiatives that help various projects in the state has been achieved. I’m thankful to all my colleagues, including Chairman Smith, the House Finance Committee, Senate President Keith Faber and Governor John Kasich for their thoughtful input and thorough discussion throughout the budget process.”


“An effort that works to benefit every Ohioan, this budget makes a difference in areas that matter most to everyday citizens,” Rep. Smith said. “I’m pleased with the outcome of this budget process, as I believe it promotes business in the state and ensures funding for our schools, which is vital to our success.”


Initiating Tax Reform and Providing Support for Ohio’s Vital Small Business Sector


In an effort to drive business to Ohio and continue the significant economical success the state has experienced over the last few years, the final budget proposal cuts taxes by a total of more than $1.8 billion over the next two yearsand includes an across-the-board 6.3 percent incometax decrease beginning in TY’ 15. The proposal also lowers the top rate to below 5 percent—the lowest it’s been since 1982. Furthering that trend, and prioritizing small businesses, the bill institutes a 75-percent income tax deduction on the first $250,000 of income in FY’ 2016 and a 100-percent deduction in FY’ 2017,and levies a flat 3 percent rate above that.


Am. Sub. House Bill 64 also creates the 2020 Tax Policy Study Committee, which will study various tax initiatives with the goal of researching and discussing forward-looking, comprehensive tax reform without the time constraints of a budget.


Providing Quality Education to Every Student


Through the passage of this legislation, no Ohio school will receive a reduction in state funding from 2015 for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The budget appropriates an additional $900 million in state aid to Ohio’s schools. Additionally, the bill allocates funding to make up for dollars lost because of the TPP and KWH reimbursement phase-outs.


Making Higher Education More Affordable


Am. Sub. H.B. 64 gives students more opportunities to obtain a degree faster and cheaper. The bill freezes tuition rates for state institutions over the next two years. It also prohibits state institutions of higher education from charging an overload fee for taking more than a certain number of credit hours. State colleges and universities will also be required to develop and implement a plan to reduce the cost of earning a degree by 5 percent. Additionally, colleges participating in College Credit Plus will be required to offer an associate degree pathway.


Crafting Initiatives that Help Those Who Need Medical Assistance


Am. Sub. H.B. 64 works to help individuals move up and off government assistance in order to have a better quality of life by implementing cost transparency measures in Medicaid and requiring the Department of Medicaid to seek waivers to allow for health savings accounts. With a focus on curtailing the drug epidemic, the bill also earmarks $500,000 to improve access for county health departments and first responders to naloxone, an anti-opiate drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.


Supporting Those Who Have Served Honorably


The legislation creates the Ohio Military Facilities Commission, which would be tasked with providing state funding to military installations in Ohio, for $5 million over the biennium, to ensure that they are prepared for the upcoming BRAC. Additionally, the bill requires DAS and ODOT to establish a veteran-friendly business procurement program.


Helping Local Governments


In order to ensure that Ohio’s local governments have the resources they need for the communities they serve, this budget makes various allocations for this purpose. For example, the bill establishes the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program with a $20 million allocation over the next two years. The bill also increases the percent of GRF tax revenues transferred to the Public Library Fund for local libraries.


Additional provisions in the budget include:



  • Extending “safe harbor” provisions to teachers and students through FY’17

  • Appropriating funds for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Pilot Program

  • Placing  a tax on cigarettes at 35 cents a pack—ensuring that Ohio’s  tobacco tax amount is on par with neighboring states

  • Providing $11 million over the biennium to expand the creation of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) drug court program

  • Earmarking $13.4 million per year for a Medicaid managed care organization to cover community health worker services for enrollees who are pregnant, or capable of becoming pregnant, who live in a community identified by the Ohio Department of Health as having a high rate of infant mortality


Am. Sub. H.B. 64 will now head to the Governor for his signature. 

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation that greatly stiffens penalties for abusing companion animals. The bill is nicknamed “Goddard’s Law” after long-time Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard, who for several years has passionately advocated strengthening penalties for animal abuse.


“This bill will allow us to identify serial criminals and potential abusers of people thereby helping us protect our children and families.”


Sponsored by Reps. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) and Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland), House Bill 60 makes it a fifth degree felony to knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal, such as pets or domestic creatures. This is generally defined as activities involving a substantial risk of death, a partial or permanent incapacity, long-term pain, or deprivation of food, water and shelter.


HB 60 also broadens the definition of “companion animal” to include animals that are kept inside a pet store, whereas the previous definition was limited to a residential dwelling.


“This bill is very important to the constituents I represent in the 70th House District. We want to better protect companion animals for all Ohio families from the dangers of abuse by elevating punishments for these abusers.”


During testimony, the bill sponsors said there is a strong link between mistreating animals and committing other crimes. A study released by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) found that 70 percent of people who committed crimes against animals were also involved in violent, property, drug or other disorderly crimes. The report also found that a person who has committed abuse against an animal is five times more likely to commit violence against people.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed House Bill 237, which establishes uniform insurance requirements for Ohio’s transportation network companies (TNCs) and self-employed drivers.


As transportation network companies become more widely utilized, it is evident that changes are needed to Ohio’s decades-old regulatory code to ensure that drivers and passengers are protected from additional risk. HB 237, sponsored by Reps. Bob Hackett (R-London) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), addresses certain gaps that exist in the way TNCs (think Uber and Lyft) are insured and regulated.


“In the past several years, Ohioans have come to enjoy the convenience and responsiveness of services like Uber and Lyft,” Duffey said. “HB 237 allows these services to grow and become even more available while at the same time ensuring uniform insurance coverage and safety standards.”


Typically, TNCs cover their drivers with commercial insurance during times when they are going to pick up a customer and when the customer is in the vehicle. However, they often do not cover drivers leading up to that point, when they are logged into the application, but have not yet accepted a customer. This is potentially problematic because it allows TNC drivers to drive uninsured while performing a commercial activity.


“With the rapidly expanding availability of Uber and Lyft, comes an increase in risk for transportation network drivers, their passengers and Ohioans in general,” Hackett said. “H.B. 237 protects Ohioans from avoidable risks while ensuring innovative businesses such as Uber and Lyft are able to thrive in Ohio.”


HB 237 establishes two phases of insurance coverage: 1.) the time before a passenger requests a ride; and 2.) when a passenger is connected to a driver or in the vehicle.


Additionally, the legislation requires TNCs to:



  • Apply to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for a permit to operate

  • Perform background checks on their drivers

  • Disclose how fares are calculated, including trip estimates and e-receipts

  • Comply with state, local and TNC anti-discrimination policies


A committee amendment added further disclosure requirements in certain situations, including following an accident in order to allow insurance companies to determine coverage. The amendment also requires that the insurance coverage required by TNCs meets an “A” rating by independent rating agencies.


The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) applauded today’s passage of Senate Bill 110, sponsored by Senator Dave Burke (R-Maryville). SB 110 seeks to permit advanced practice registered nurses with prescriptive authority to delegate the administration of certain medications for patients to qualified individuals, and changes the laws governing the practice of physician assistants to allow them to practice to the full extent of their training by removing statutory barriers to practice and updating provisions.


Rep. Gonzales, who serves as the Chair of the House Health and Aging Committee, commented on the passage of the bill:
“This bill is a much needed reform for how our mid-level providers provide care in our state. By allowing Physician Assistants to practice at the full scope of their education and letting Advanced Practice Nurses to delegate some of their authority, Ohio is moving in the correct direction with our health care policy.”

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

Today, the conference committee on Amended Substitute House Bill 64, the state operating budget, voted to adopt the committee report and move the legislation to the Ohio House and Senate floors.


Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), released a statement regarding the adoption of the conference committee report:


“After continual and productive conversations with those on the conference committee, members of the House Finance Committee, and members of the Senate Finance Committee, we were able to craft a committee report for Am. Sub. H.B. 64 that focuses on the areas that matter most to Ohioans—lower taxes, quality education for our children and comprehensive medical coverage. I look forward to taking the next steps and discussing further with my colleagues in the House as we work to pass the budget in the coming days.”

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

During today’s Ohio House session, State Representative Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) recognized Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart for being named the National Sheriff of the Year.


“Sheriff Lenhart is a great representative of the good people we find in western Ohio, but he has taken his service to a level rarely matched,” Buchy said. “The sheriff is engaged in his community as a philanthropist who gives and leads others to give.  He has taken that spirit around Ohio to help us fight the drug problems that have caused destruction to families throughout the state. Sheriff John R. Lenhart is rightfully praised by his peers.”


A graduate of Jackson Center High School, Lenhart has served as Shelby County Sheriff at two different timeframes, first from 1976 to 1991 and again from 2011 to today. When he was first elected at the age of 29, he was the youngest sheriff in the state. Today, he is the oldest.


Lenhart has been on the forefront of protecting schools and children in Shelby County. He established “school security officers” in the Sidney City School system and has placed deputies in each school.


In addition to being Sheriff, John Lenhart and family operate a successful farm in Shelby County and is a member of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Kettlersville, Ohio. His farm has been featured on the Ohio and USDA website for conservation activities.


As well as farming, John Lenhart serves as a security consultant for local businesses and events.

 
 
  
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Conference Report On State Operating Budget Passes Ohio House

 
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today approved the conference committee report for Amended Substitute House Bill 64, which is the state operating budget. The legislation lowers the income tax, ensures adequate funding for Ohio schools, freezes tuition costs on colleges and helps small businesses. It is now being sent to the Governor for his signature.



 
 

House Votes To Send State Budget To Conference Committee

 
COLUMBUS - 

Today, following the passage of Am. Sub. House Bill 64 through the Senate, the Ohio House voted to reject Senate amendments and to send the state operating budget to conference committee. Speaker Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) released a statement.



 
 

Biennial Budget Clears Ohio House With Bipartisan Support

 
COLUMBUS - 

Today, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Amended Substitute House Bill 64, the biennial state budget bill that allocates funding to schools, community projects and government initiatives as well as providing significant tax relief to all Ohioans and small businesses in the state.



 
 

Ohio House Bill 53, The Transportation And Public Safety Budget, Signed Into Law

 
COLUMBUS - 

House Bill 53, sponsored by Representative Cheryl Grossman, has been signed into law by Governor Kasich. HB 53 establishes the Transportation and Public Safety budgets in Ohio.