COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) today joined several public leaders, experts and military veterans at a Statehouse press conference to highlight suicide the state’s suicide prevention efforts.


In Ohio, suicide is the leading cause of death among 10-14 year-olds and the second-leading cause of death among those between 15 and 34. On average, one person dies by suicide every five hours in the state.


“The goal behind all of our suicide prevention efforts to make sure people know there is help available for anyone who is struggling,” said Anielski, who has been a leading advocate for suicide prevention since joining the House in 2011. “Sometimes even saying the word ‘suicide’ is uncomfortable, so we are working hard to break through that stigma. Understanding all of the options and resources that are out there is the first step toward overcoming the silent epidemic.”


Her work includes sponsoring the “Jason Flatt Act, Ohio, in honor of Joseph Anielski” (HB 543, 129th General Assembly), designating September 10th as “Ohio Suicide Prevention Day” (HB 149, 130th General Assembly), and expanding access to suicide prevention programs on college campuses (HB 28, 131st General Assembly). Additionally, she voted for the most recent budget bill (HB 64), which appropriated $2 million for suicide prevention efforts.


Last year, Anielski also sponsored House Bill 440, legislation that designates the Saturday before Thanksgiving as “Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.” It is a day when friends and family join together for healing and support to cope with the tragedy of losing a loved one to suicide.


Among the guest speakers was Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, who detailed what universities like YSU are doing to reach out to troubled students and provide assistance and support to reduce the suicide rate among young adults.


“In working together with all groups of people, our mission is to help them understand that there is help available and there is hope if you’ll reach out for it,” Tressel said. “We are here for them to create that hope in their lives, we’re here for them when they have those moments of questioning the hope in their lives. It is truly an honor to be a part of this discussion.”


Nearly 20 percent of all adult suicide deaths in the United States are by military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. With Veterans Day coming up on Saturday, two military veterans also shared their perspective.


Retired U.S. Air Force Sgt. Carolyn Barnes shared her perspective of experiencing three generations of family members die by suicide and stressed the importance of supporting military veterans. “I appreciate having the ability to talk and share resources and information with everyone, especially veterans,” she said. “At 22 suicides a day, we definitely need to address this, have resources for this and have places where these veterans can reach out to for assistance.”


Retired U.S. Army Capt. Holly Koester also expressed the need for further education and awareness when it comes to helping veterans cope. “Nobody wants to ask for help, and a lot of times they say they don’t need the help. Further education and outreach let veterans know that there are ways to cope with it and that they’re not alone,” Koester said. “They’re not the only one who thought about possibly taking their own lives, but there are other ways. Their life may not be the same as it was before but it can be different and it can be good.”


"We are committed to a comprehensive suicide prevention plan, which features primary prevention, access to treatment as well as post-intervention support,” said Angie Bergefurd, Assistant Director for Community Programs and Services at the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services. "We believe that through these and other efforts contained in Ohio's suicide prevention plan, we will be able to save lives and we will be able to make a difference."


In an effort to expand public awareness and outreach for suicide prevention, award-winning country music band Rascal Flatts provided a video message that was played during the press conference. It can be seen here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/rascall-flatts-suicide-awareness


The press conference also featured a video filmed previously by Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence, focusing on art therapy, one of the methods used to help individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts. It can be seen here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/art-therapy-psa


“Art therapy is a healing process,” said Sharon Doyle of the Buckeye Art Therapy Association, who also spoke at the press conference. “It provides an appropriate outlet for feelings for things that people aren’t able to talk about.”


More information on suicide prevention and outreach can be found at a wide variety of resources, including:



  • SaferSchools.ohio.gov

  • SuicidePrevention.ohio.gov

  • And by texting “4Hope” to 741-741


Full video of the press conference can be seen here: http://ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-discussing-suicide-prevention-efforts?6

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today announced that he has introduced a bill that will designate July 16th as Atomic Veterans Day in Ohio and a concurrent resolution urging Congress to pass the Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act.


“With Veteran’s Day celebrations getting started, this is an ideal time to single out the special services of a very important group of people, our Atomic Veterans,” Rep. Schaffer said. “Because of the importance, secrecy and unknown dangers of their tasks, Atomic Veterans have rare challenges, specifically with their healthcare and quality of life. It’s time that we recognize their contributions to our country and bring attention and awareness to their distinct situation.”


According to the National Association of Atomic Veterans, an Atomic Veteran is: “[A member] of the United States Armed Forces who participated in atmospheric and underwater nuclear weapons tests from 16 July, 1945 to 30 October 1962.  They also include veterans who were assigned to post test duties, such as “ground zero” nuclear warfare maneuvers & exercises, removing radiation cloud samples from aircraft wing pods, working in close proximity to radiated test animals,  decontamination of aircraft and field test equipment, retrieval and transport of test instruments & devices, and a host of other duty assignments that provided an opportunity for a radiation exposure & contamination event.”


During the period between 1945 and 1962, the United States is estimated to have performed 235 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Nearly 250,000 service men and women assisted with these tests throughout the Southwestern region of the country and the Pacific Ocean.


In 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation declaring July 16 as National Atomic Veterans Day. The State of Virginia also recently passed similar legislation to make the same designation.


The Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate as S.283 by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota). It has been referred to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) yesterday presented a resolution honoring Brandan Holliday, from Hillsboro, as the 2017 Ohio Police and Fire Games traditional wrestling champion.


In June, Holliday participated in the Ohio Police and Fire Games, which is held annually in a different city around the state of Ohio. A deputy for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Holliday won the traditional wrestling gold medal in the competition after several matches. 


“Deputy Holliday has the heart of a servant—he has proven that time and again in his roles in the military and law enforcement,” Rep. Johnson said. “He also has the heart of a lion, and he proved that beyond any doubt through his success in these games. He is a great American, and it was an honor to recognize his achievement before the Ohio House of Representatives.”


According to its website, the Ohio Police and Fire Games aims to support the physical and mental fitness of the state’s active and retired law enforcement and firefighter personnel (and active and reserve military police and firefighters) by promoting the concept of physical fitness and sport within their communities through the development, organization and coordination of sporting events. 


Deputy Holliday had the opportunity to receive the resolution during House session at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. 

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) today announced the Ohio House’s passage of legislation that establishes certain requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid assistance.


House Bill 119, which he joint-sponsored with Rep. Mike Henne (R-Clayton), makes changes to the administration of these programs in an effort to improve accountability and cut down on fraud. Through various reforms, the bill requires the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Department of Medicaid to perform cross-checks of databases related to SNAP and Medicaid on a quarterly basis and gather information to determine eligibility of recipients.


“It is important that we act as guardians of the taxpayer dollars in these programs not only for the average citizen, but also for those who use the program and truly need it,” said McColley. “I am happy to have sponsored House Bill 119, which strengthens the state’s abilities to verify and weed out fraud in welfare programs.”


The goal of the legislation is to strengthen guardrails on these benefits programs, improving their efficiency and effectiveness. By eliminating fraud and confirming eligibility, those who truly need assistance will be better safeguarded.


House Bill 119 now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 214, legislation prohibiting abortions on unborn children who have or may have Down syndrome.


The legislation, also known as “The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act,” prohibits anyone from performing or inducing an abortion if that person has knowledge that the diagnosis or test result indicating Down syndrome in an unborn child is the reason for seeking the abortion.


Furthermore, House Bill 214 requires medical professionals to distribute up-to-date, evidence-based information on Down syndrome to parents who receive the diagnosis.


"The sad truth is, 90 percent of women that receive a Down syndrome diagnosis for their unborn child choose abortion,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland), who joint-sponsored the legislation with Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township). “That statistic is not only horrifying, it's absolutely unacceptable. While many of us have very different opinions on abortion and the rights of the unborn, I'm not sure how anyone can deny that choosing to end a child's life because they might have Down syndrome is discrimination."


Violation of the statute is a fourth-degree felony and would result in the State Medical Board revoking a physician’s license. The legislation grants criminal immunity for a pregnant woman on whom such an abortion was performed.


House Bill 214 now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House voted favorably today to pass House Bill 292, which adjusts the criteria for determining whether an individual is considered an Ohio or out-of-state resident for income tax purposes. The set of specific criteria used to make the determination is commonly referred to as the “bright-line test.”


The legislation was sponsored by State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), who has spent the majority of his career as a CPA. The bill adds four key criteria to the bright-line test in order to be considered a non-resident. Specifically, that the individual did not:



  • Claim a federal depreciation deduction with respect to an out-of-state residence being considered as the primary domicile

  • Hold a valid Ohio driver's license or identification card

  • Receive the benefit of an Ohio homestead exemption for real estate tax purposes

  • Receive a tuition discount based on residency for attending an Ohio institution of higher education


These proposed criteria, in addition to the existing criteria of having fewer than 213 overnight stays, or “contact periods,” having a non-Ohio residence for the entire taxable year, and filing a truthful affidavit attesting to those specific facts creates an irrefutable presumption of non-Ohio domicile. Individuals are still able to be determined a non-Ohio resident if they do not meet all the criteria, however having all of the above-listed conditions ensures that the individual’s residency cannot be challenged.


“This bill addresses issues that arose following a 2015 Ohio Supreme Court case,” said Scherer. “HB 292 will make the test for determining an individual’s state of residence clear.”


Scherer introduced the legislation at the request of tax professionals in response to the Ohio Supreme Court decision, Cunningham vs. Testa. The majority opinion found that current law was overly broad and therefore the tax commissioner was allowed to use other common law criteria.


The Ohio Society of CPA’s (OSCPA), Ohio State Bar Association and Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) worked in conjunction on the legislation to remedy the problem posed by the Ohio Supreme Court case.


“This bill, if passed by the Ohio Senate, will provide much-needed clarity to factors that can be examined by ODT,” said Greg Saul, OSCPA’s director of tax policy. “Right now, snowbirds and other non-Ohio residents are open to literally dozens of common law factors that can cause their out-of-state residency —for state income tax purposes—to be questioned, making it challenging for these individuals to know how to comply.”


House Bill 292 passed with bipartisan support and now awaits further consideration from the Ohio Senate.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today applauded the passage of House Bill 50 by a bipartisan vote of 61-30 in the Ohio House of Representatives, legislation he sponsored that takes steps in preventing fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


The legislation, inspired by recommendations from Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost, will require a color photograph of at least one adult in a household on the front of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, a feature that will protect the integrity of the program. By adding a photo to these cards, House Bill 50 seeks to deter trafficking of the cards and safeguard the benefits of those who need them and are legally entitled to them.


“Adding a photo ID onto the card provides a powerful deterrent to SNAP fraud,” Rep. Schaffer said. “The bottom line for the legislation is this—it protects the integrity of SNAP, deters trafficking for drugs and other illegal activity, and preserves the precious funds for those in need.”


“President Obama estimated SNAP had $750 million of fraud per year nationwide. On a population basis, that puts Ohio’s share around $26 million per year in SNAP fraud. We’re taking a significant step in this state to bring that number down and make sure Ohioans are getting the benefits they need,” Rep. Schaffer said. “No one loses benefits. We’re protecting $26 million for Ohioans who need our help. With House Bill 50, we will feed those in need, not drug dealers.”


Based on findings from a report released by Auditor Yost, the SNAP program in Ohio has an error rate of about five percent. Auditor Yost’s findings identified several key issues with the administration of the SNAP program, including numerous cases of SNAP EBT cards being traded on the black market. By selling their cards for cash, often at rates near 50 cents for every dollar on the card itself, individuals will use that money to purchase illegal drugs.


“We are adding an additional layer of security for our citizens, protecting their benefits so we can make sure they get the food they need to survive and thrive. We need to feed Ohioans, not drug dealers who take advantage of our neighbors,” Schaffer said.


The legislation is based off a similar law that passed in Massachusetts in 2013 with bipartisan support. Under federal law, Ohio is reimbursed for 50 percent of the cost of administering the SNAP program, including the cost of implementing House Bill 50. Additional cost savings will be realized by allowing the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to use an individual’s photo already on file with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.


Exemptions to the bill include households with no adults, adults age 60 years or older, blind, disabled and victims of domestic violence. However, any exempted adult who wishes to have their photo ID on their EBT card can opt-in to the program.


House Bill 50, a benefits protection bill, now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

 
 
  
 
House Passes Bill Highlighting Workforce Development Efforts
Healthy economy dependent on a skilled workforce
October 25, 2017
 
 
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) applauded the passage of Senate Bill 3, legislation that designates the full week beginning on the first Monday in May as "In-Demand Jobs Week.”


Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senators Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) and Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), was initially the result of a study completed by the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board, of which Rep. Reineke is a member. The board discussed how to better connect businesses with individuals, align training with business requirements and identify the needs of businesses. Senate Bill 3 included various components of the group’s recommendations, however, during the budget process, through the leadership of Rep. Reineke, these various provisions were instead placed into the main operating budget passed in June.


During this week’s House session, Rep. Reineke addressed the members of the House of Representatives and underscored the importance of continuing to prioritize workforce development efforts through various initiatives, including the recognition of the first week in May as “In-Demand Jobs Week.”


The state operating budget included provisions that impact Ohio’s workforce, encouraging a stronger economy, such as:





    • Establishing standards, accountability, and reporting requirements for Business Advisory Councils for school district Boards of Education

    • Encouraging an increase of the percentage of adults in the state with a college degree, industry certificate, or other postsecondary credential to 65 percent by the year 2025

    • Developing of a Regional Workforce Collaboration Model to provide career services to students and requires Ohio to comply with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

    • Creating a Workforce Supply Tool that provides information on in-demand jobs

    • Utilizing public libraries as “continuous learning centers” that serve as hubs for information about local in-demand jobs and relevant education and job training resources

    • Increasing the OhioMeansJobs Revolving Loan Fund maximum award amount from $100,000 to $250,000 (per workforce program, per year)

    • Working to develop the amount of graduates in Advanced Technology and Cyber Security fields

    • Requiring a framework to be developed for school districts to use in granting units of high school credit to students who demonstrate work-based competency

    • Reforming Certificates of Qualification for Employment to help inmates transition into the workforce upon reentry



 

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Rep. Johnson Announces House Passage Of Legislation To Streamline Military License Plates
Provides better recognition for Ohio's military men and women
October 25, 2017
 
 
Rep. Johnson encourages "yes" vote on HB 194 during House session
COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) today announced that the Ohio House passed House Bill 194, legislation that creates an automatic process for designing and approving military license plates.


House Bill 194 will require the Director of Veterans Services and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to develop and maintain a program to establish and issue nonstandard license plates that recognize military service and military honors pertaining to valor and service. The director and registrar are to adopt rules to establish the program, including eligibility criteria, guidelines for design, and documentation requirements.


Ohio has nearly 50 different license plates and 22 separate revised code sections related to military service. Military badges can change in name and design, resulting on out of date license plates. Additionally, as service men and women return from recent foreign conflicts, they are unable to get a license plate recognizing their service if their operation’s specialty license plate is not created in code via the legislative process.


“The Ohio Legislature has a strong tradition of honoring the service and valor of our military and veterans,” said Representative Johnson.  “Unfortunately, the process for doing this has become slow and cumbersome and, frankly, difficult. House Bill 194 will streamline and efficiently systematize this procedure, allowing the General Assembly to move with greater speed and agility in its efforts to recognize our military heroes through our license plate program.” 


House Bill 194, sponsored by Representative Terry Johnson and joint-sponsored by Representative Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), now goes to the Senate for further consideration. 

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

The Ohio House yesterday voted in favor of House Bill 251, sponsored by Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake), which expands the current five-year limit on political subdivisions investment ability to a limit of 10 years. This increases the maturity of the investment, which increases the municipality’s revenue opportunity.


Ultimately, House Bill 251 allows a political subdivision to purchase the debt of another subdivision for a longer period of time. This would be advantageous for both the purchaser and seller because it would result in more investment income for the municipality purchasing the debt, and less interest accrued for the municipality selling their debt, saving taxpayer money.


The current five-year limit hinders many subdivisions from investing in state and local bonds because the investment is impractical when restricted to such a short period of time, according to committee testimony.


House Bill 251 is a Buckeye Pathway bill that passed with bipartisan support and now awaits further consideration from the Ohio Senate.

 
 
  
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Rep. Ryan Smith Announced As Chair Of House Finance Committee

 
COLUMBUS - 

Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today announced that State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) will continue to serve as Chairman of the House Finance Committee for the 132nd General Assembly, after previously serving as chair in the 131st General Assembly.



 
 

Governor Kasich Signs Legislation Providing Workers' Compensation Eligibility For Firefighters At Risk For Cancer

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) today applauded Governor Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 27, legislation that creates presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Rep. Patton sponsored the legislation during the 131st General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate.



 
 

Rep. Dever Announces Start Of Round Two Of The Application Process For Local Government Safety Capital Grants

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today announced that the Local Government Innovation Council will begin accepting applications for the second round of the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program. Initiated by the Ohio House of Representatives and included in the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, these grants can help to fund public safety projects in local communities throughout Ohio, including those in the 28th House District.



 
 

Milestone Reached To Bring Grocer To Vinton County

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) today announced that preliminary terms between the Finance Fund and Campbell’s Market have been agreed upon to bring a grocery store to Vinton County.