The Ohio House of Representatives today concurred on Senate changes to legislation that exempts municipal gas companies from collecting and remitting sales taxes on the natural gas they provide to citizens.

House Bill 390, sponsored by Reps. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) and Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) came in response to an attempt by the Ohio Department of Taxation to begin collecting sales tax from residents with natural gas accounts. Prior to this, municipal gas departments were not subject to sales tax. HB 390 specifically exempts municipal gas departments from sales tax.

“I am proud that Rep. Retherford and I were able to collaborate with local leaders and our colleagues in the General Assembly to stop an unjust gas tax increase on the residents of Lancaster, Hamilton, and several other municipalities,” Rep. Schaffer said. “I would like to thank Lancaster Mayor Brian Kuhn, Law Director & City Prosecutor Randall Ullom, and Economic Development Director Mike Pettit for putting their time into this effort which will save our constituents millions of dollars.”

The legislation mostly impacts municipalities that still operate their own utilities: Lancaster, Hamilton, McComb, Deshler, Oakwood, Verona and Williamsport. But the bill sponsors stressed that failing to address this situation now could lead to a slippery slope.

“With the passage of H.B. 390, the Ohio House has ensured that we will pay off the unemployment debt, which will save our employers from ever increasing taxes, we will repeal an unfair and unused Utility Service Tax, and most importantly, we will prevent a potential 10 percent increase to Hamilton Utility Customers’ bills,” said Rep. Retherford. “I was very proud be a part of this bill, and I want to thank my colleagues for their support. A very big thank you goes out to Joshua Smith, Doug Childs and Mayor Pat Moeller of Hamilton for their support on this issue.”

Reps. Schaffer and Retherford also worked with the Senate and House to amend a number of other provisions into H.B. 390, including a measure to relieve Ohio businesses’ debt to the federal government for unemployment compensation fund loans, as well as increasing the state motion picture tax credit cap from $20 million to $40 million per fiscal year.

The legislation also includes a provision to help fix a long-standing property tax issue for the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority (YMHA). Metropolitan Housing Authorities are typically exempt from property taxes, but after a series of renovations to a development in the late 1990s, YMHA failed to qualify for the exemption due to a clerical error, and has since been dealing with a tax liability as a result. The provision authorizes an abatement of unpaid property taxes, penalties, and interest owed.

The legislation now heads to the Governor for his signature.

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