COLUMBUS—State Representative Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) recently introduced legislation that would designate a shelter pet as Ohio’s official state pet.


House Bill 319 is an effort to raise awareness for shelter animals. Each year, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide, of which 1.5 million are euthanized. In Ohio, 70 percent of dogs in shelters are adopted, with the remaining 30 percent being euthanized. This statistic is as high as 58 percent in some counties.


"I've seen firsthand too many dejected and distressed dogs languishing in shelters to not want to do something to help,” said Rep. Lanese. “We adopted our two dogs, Charlie and Jackson, from an animal shelter eight years ago. I hope this legislation will not only shine a spotlight on animal shelters, but also show the state's support and appreciation for the shelter workers and volunteers and the rescue groups trying to save these companion animals, as well as for those who take on the responsibilities and joys of owning a shelter pet.”


The bill now awaits an appropriate committee designation.

 
 
  

It’s hard to believe, but another school term has begun. With summer winding down and more school buses on the streets, students all across Ohio are entering the classroom again or beginning a new chapter in their educational journey. College students and those in vocational or tech schools are also gearing up for a new school year. As state legislators, one of our top priorities is ensuring that our children are able to receive a quality education that sets them up for future success.


The Ohio House has been making significant efforts to achieve this goal of providing a good education for the next generation of leaders, innovators, and citizens. We strive to equip them with the skills and character required to take on these roles in a continuously changing world and workforce. It is our responsibility to provide a reliable foundation, and this commitment is reflected in the recently passed state biennial budget.


Even through a tight budget cycle, we prioritized state funding for school districts. We worked to raise per-pupil funding from $6,000 to $6,010 and reward high-performing educational service centers (ESCs) with $26 per student, up from the $24 per student other ESCs are granted. We were also able to make sure that a majority of schools will not lose state funding for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, as districts need these funds to provide an optimal academic experience for students.


Higher education and the workforce were also important considerations in our budget deliberations. In order to increase college affordability and cost transparency, we instituted tuition controls that keep in place the tuition freeze for undergraduates and mandate that colleges and universities study textbook costs and provide an annual report of findings to the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Finally, it was important for us to invest in programs that equip graduates for their career field through various services. Short-term certificates also allow jobseekers to enter the workforce quickly so they can provide for their families.


The state legislature seeks to improve the quality of education in Ohio so that all students can reach their full potential. A good education is a win for everyone: individuals, their families, and the economy. As we embark on yet another school year, I hope these measures in the budget will be beneficial to you and that you keep pursuing your passions and dreams.

 
 
  
 
New Law To Close Loophole In Child-Enticement Statute
Prior law ruled unconstitutional by Ohio Supreme Court
August 17, 2017
 
 

COLUMBUS, OHIO – State Representatives Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) and Bob Cupp (R-Lima) today announced plans to partner with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to introduce new legislation to strengthen Ohio’s child-enticement law.


The lawmakers are rushing to close the loophole after charges were dropped in Worthington against convicted sex offender Jonathan Ringel for allegedly enticing at least two 9-year-old girls, and possibly other children, to enter his vehicle this week. That decision came in response to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional. Ringel remains under arrest pending a review of his parole status for sexual offenses committed in Virginia.


“While I am thankful Jonathan Ringel is currently under arrest pending his parole violation review, it was shocking to hear his child enticement charge was dropped on the basis of Romage,” said Rep. Duffey. “While we can all agree that normal, innocent behavior should not be criminalized, it is not at all normal for a stranger to approach fourth graders and coax them to enter his vehicle. I am committed to updating Ohio law to ensure this dangerous predatory behavior is completely illegal.”


Franklin County Municipal Court decided the city could not prosecute Ringel for enticement since the Ohio Supreme Court declared the state law partially unconstitutional in State v. Romage (2014). While that case was on appeal, the legislature attempted to tighten the statute in SB 64 (2013).


“Child predators should always be held accountable when they make attempts to entice children,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I am looking forward to working with Representatives Duffey and Cupp to strengthen Ohio’s law in this area.”


While the charge was dropped, Ringel remains under arrest pending parole review. Ringel was convicted in Rockingham County, Virginia of possession of child pornography and taking indecent liberties with minors in 2014. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison but was released on parole.


“Protecting our children is of paramount importance,” said Rep. Cupp. “I look forward to helping craft an effective, workable and constitutional law to do just that with my colleague, Rep. Duffey.”


While most of the details of the legislation will be worked out in the coming weeks, Reps. Duffey and Cupp said they would attempt to clarify the law by ensuring it applies to strangers without any legitimate relationship to a child and also to those with prior sexual offender status. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien have also thrown their support behind the legislation and offered to begin working on ways to strengthen the law.


“We are working with the police to file another charge under a related statute and I look forward to assisting Rep. Duffey on amending the existing statute to solve the problem created by the court decision,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.


Representatives Duffey and Cupp hope to have legislation introduced before session begins again in September.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) today announced that the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and the Capitol Square Foundation will open their online application process for school transportation grants on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.


The grants are available to help Ohio schools, which receive state funding, defray the cost of field trips to the Ohio Statehouse and are based on one-way mileage from the visiting school to Columbus. There are 25 grants available in each of the following mileage categories, for a total of 75 grants:


• 1 to 50 miles:                    $200
• 51 to 100 miles:                 $300
• 101+ miles:                       $400


Limited to fourth through 12th grade trips during the 2017-2018 school year, the grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and have been known to be awarded within a matter of minutes of the grant application process opening.


“This program is a great opportunity for schools in our community to bring students to the Statehouse and show them how state government works in-person,” said Rezabek. “I want to encourage all of our schools to apply for these transportation grants come September 12th.”
 
More information on the application process can be found here:
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/news/school-transportation-grants-available-for-20172018-school-year.

 
 
  

Ohio is truly a treasure of natural wonder, with a variety of different landscapes from the plains of the northwest to the rolling hills of the south. Our 74 state parks offer a great opportunity to experience our state’s scenery while partaking in a number of unique family-friendly activities. Ohio is also home to 21 state forests, 136 nature preserves, and 117 wildlife areas, comprising almost 600,000 acres of land.


In the 84th House District, we are lucky to have two incredible state parks—Grand Lake St. Marys State Park and Lake Loramie State Park—both easily within driving distance for even just a day at the lake. Celina can boast about Grand Lake St. Marys to the rest of the state at its annual Lake Festival at the end of July each year, but both parks are certainly worthy of a trip out to western Ohio during any time of the year.


Grand Lake St. Marys State Park is well-known for its boating opportunities, with 13,500 acres of lake water and 52 miles of shoreline. In addition to boating, fishing is a popular activity at the lake, with largemouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, and more in plentiful abundance. Lake Loramie State Park also has many lake-related pastimes, but exclusive to it is a 9-hole disc golf course and five hiking trails. With picnicking, swimming, and more available at both parks, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to go around.


Outside of this region, one of my favorite parks to visit is Hocking Hills State Park. My family and I go there often, staying in one of the cabins or bringing our camper down for an extended visit. The landscape and scenery at Hocking Hills are some of Ohio’s best hidden treasures and are truly incomparable. While there is much to do at the park, it is best known for its exceptional trails. From Old Man’s Cave to the Rock House, Hocking Hills has some of Ohio’s most interesting terrain and most beautiful views.


In my experience, I’ve enjoyed many of our state parks with my own family, and I know the kinds of memories that can be created while hiking, boating, and more. Your state parks are an opportune way to experience more of Ohio as we transition into fall, and I encourage you to get out and explore!

 
 
  

One of the best parts about Ohio in the summer and fall is the vast number of state parks we have to enjoy, each providing a variety of activities in which to partake over the weekend or for a family vacation, all without having to travel across state lines. In addition to its 74 state parks, Ohio is home to 21 state forests, 136 nature preserves, and 117 wildlife areas, encompassing almost 600,000 acres of land.


In Summit County, we are lucky to have two incredible state parks—Portage Lakes State Park and Wingfoot Lake State Park. Both parks give locals and Ohioans from other regions of the state the opportunity to enjoy some of the many lakes in northeastern Ohio. With boating, water skiing, fishing, and swimming, there are so many reasons to get out on the water with your family. These parks serve as a welcomed refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city, a time to get away and make memories.


There are a number of other hobbies to get involved in at these parks as well, all things to get you outside and active. Disc golf, hunting, and hiking are just a few of the options available at Portage Lakes and Wingfoot. Additionally, the Suffield League Music Festival will be taking place this weekend, August 18th and 19th, at Wingfoot Lake State Park. A free family-friendly event, the festival offers a unique way to enjoy the park, interact with the community, and experience the local music scene.


In my experience, Ohio’s state parks can make for an incredible trip, and so many of them are right in our backyards. Each park is distinctive in its own way, and I encourage you to visit those right here at home, as well as others throughout the state. The dog days of summer can sometimes drag on, especially after all the to-dos have been completed, but your state parks are a great way to experience more of Ohio while filling up your final days of summer.

 
 
  

For the third time in four years, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced that it will be refunding more than $1 billion to Ohio’s businesses. As always, I am a staunch supporter of any effort to put more money back into the hands of individuals and our job creators. It is our job as policymakers to enact and encourage measures that will result in the growth and success of Ohio’s economic environment.
 
But the question is—why and how is the BWC able to return more than $3 billion total to the workplace? Ohio’s employers, both public and private, pay premiums to the agency each year for safety services that work to reduce on-the-job incidents and provide access to care for workers who do get injured while at work.
 
In recent years, the State Insurance Fund has seen a net positive of more than $9 billion due to a variety of favorable conditions in the state. Safer work places have led to a reduction in claims, investment returns have been better than anticipated, and overall responsible management of the state’s funds have combined to result in a surplus of dollars in the State Insurance Fund.  And so for the third time, the BWC has made the right move in returning some of these funds back to those who paid them in the first place—Ohio's employers.
 
Money returned to the private sector is likely to go a productive use; it will allow businesses large and small to reinvest in their operations, with the net effect of boosting Ohio’s overall economy. For the 95th House District, private and public employers in Washington, Noble, Belmont, Harrison, and Carroll counties will altogether receive more than $15.5 million back in rebates. These additional resources can go toward health care, capital purchases, or more modest obligations.
 
I’m proud to support this rebate by the BWC, a responsible return of funds to the entities that keep our state growing and prospering, especially our small businesses. That's a good outcome for southeast Ohio.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) today announced that he was recently appointed by Governor John Kasich to the Early Childhood Advisory Council.


The council advises the state on issues related to the duties of the center for early childhood development and promotes programs and services that support the social, mental, and physical well-being of children and the role of families.


“I am honored to be appointed by the Governor to serve on this advisory council. Early childhood development and education are critical areas for which special attention should be paid,” said Rep. Brenner. “Children are the future leaders, scientists, and teachers and we would be remiss to not equip them for that future.  I look forward to working with the other members of the advisory council on how we can improve the lives of Ohio’s children and their families.”


Rep. Brenner’s term began immediately upon his appointment.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) has appointed Representative Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).


The mission of the OPSB is to support sound energy policies that enhance energy capacity and transmission infrastructure to benefit Ohioans, promoting the state's economic interests, and protecting the environment and land use.


Ultimately, the duty of the OPSB is to evaluate and approve any construction involving a major utility facility or economically significant wind farm.


"I'm beyond excited to work alongside PUCO Chairman Haque, the numerous directors from the Governor's cabinet, and the rest of the OPSB members to help shape the future of our state's public utilities infrastructure," Carfagna said.  "Whether it's through new electric generation facilities, transmission lines, gas pipelines or wind farms, our duty to all Ohioans is to ensure energy capacity that strengthens our economy, preserves our environment, promotes responsible land use, and respects property rights.  I'm ready to be a part of this important conversation. Thank you to Speaker Cliff Rosenberger for naming me to the Ohio Power Siting Board and for his continued confidence in my abilities."


Rep. Carfagna will be one of 11 members on the board, which is comprised of the directors of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Development Services Agency, Department of Health, Department of Natural Resources, and the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission. Four legislator and one public member also serve on the OPSB.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington) has introduced legislation that would create a license plate highlighting Pelotonia.


Since its founding in 2008, Pelotonia has raised more than $130 million for cancer research through its charitable events, which features three days of cycling, entertainment and volunteerism. Every dollar raised goes toward some form of cancer research at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.


“The great work that Pelotonia does in funding life-saving cancer research speaks for itself,” said Rep. Hughes. “The creation of the Pelotonia license plate will give supporters of cancer research an easy way to contribute to the worthwhile cause of ending this terrible disease, which has touched all of our lives in some way.”


House Bill 313 expands the ability for supporters of Pelotonia to contribute $15 to cancer research through the purchase of the license plate.


“The Pelotonia community is passionate about the work we do, together, to fund research and save lives,” said Miguel Perez, Pelotonia’s Vice President of Mission & Brand. “We know that the more people we connect with, the stronger we are and the faster we will reach our one goal. We are excited to reach even more people, through the Pelotonia license plates, and have them join our movement to end cancer.”


House Bill 313 awaits assignment to a House committee and further deliberation.

 
 
  
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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.