1. House unveiled BWC legislation
House Republicans provided testimony on a package of bills addressing issues within the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation this week. House Bills 516, 517, and 518 received sponsor testimony in the House Insurance Subcommittee on Worker’s Compensation.
The bills would do the following:
House Bill 516: Sponsored by Representatives Michael Henne (R- Clayton) and Jay Hottinger (R- Newark), the bill allows state university hospitals to participate in self-insurance, eliminates the additional premium assessment for older claims where the worker is permanently and totally disabled, and permits political subdivisions to participate in the One-Claim program. The bill sponsors said the bill would modernize and streamline the BWC administrative process.
House Bill 517: Sponsored by Representatives Barbara Sears (R- Sylvania) and Craig Newbold (R- Columbiana), the bill provides incentives for injured workers to participate in medical treatment plans and vocational rehabilitation programs which are required in order to maintain full benefit eligibility. Representative Sears’ sponsor testimony states that the bill permits BWC to grant presumptive authorization with payment for certain medical services for 45 days after the claim allowance. If the claim is ultimately determined not to be a workers’ compensation claim, the bill gives BWC the ability to seek reimbursement from third party payers when available.
Additionally, the bill requires BWC to issue a report grading quality outcomes of Managed Care Organizations (MCO) and providers within the BWC system. It requires BWC to contract with MCOs to create a network of providers that meet quality benchmarks. The bill preserves the injured workers’ ability to choose a provider for the first 45 days following an injury; however, the worker must choose a provider from the approved provider list created as a result of this legislation after the initial 45 days.
House Bill 518: Sponsored by Representatives Barbara Sears and Al Landis (R- Dover), the bill permits BWC to suspend a health care provider's certification to participate in the Health Partnership Program and exempts certain documents from the state Public Records Law that pertain to fraud investigations. Representative Sears said the bill would help injured workers return to work faster by addressing the issue of underperforming health care providers in the BWC system.
BWC Administrator Steve Buehrer expressed his support for the bills through a joint press release with House Leadership stating, “These legislative proposals build on our year-long effort to improve quality care, reduce government bureaucracy and create a system that promotes job growth in Ohio.”
House Bills 516 and 518 are scheduled for additional hearings on April 24 and 25.
2. Action on Mid-Biennium Review Bills The House Finance Committee accepted a condensed version of the Mid-Biennium Review (MBR) in Substitute House Bill 487 on April 17, 2012. The formerly 2,833 page bill is roughly 500 pages lighter after being broken up into 10 separate pieces of legislation. Chairman Ron Amstutz has referenced Ohio’s single-subject clause in the Ohio Constitution as his reasoning for considering the legislation in separate bills.
Among the bills now included in what is referred to as the MBR are:
Substitute House Bill 487: Among the amendments included in Sub HB 487 is a provision allowing physician assistants to prescribe Schedule II drugs. The bill also creates the compressed Natural Gas Study Committee to study the issue of using compressed natural gas in the vehicle fleets of the state and political subdivisions. A similar provision is currently included in Senate Bill 315, the Governor’s Energy MBR. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Treasurer of State to select a designee to collect taxes levied on surplus line insurance. The bill is scheduled for a possible vote on April 24, 2012.
House Bill 505: Creates a small claims division of the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) with the authority to hear certain appeals involving nonbusiness real property or where the amount in controversy is less than $10,000 and all parties give written consent. Additionally, the bill would require the BTA to establish a case management schedule for appeals and allow appeals to be filed online or by fax. HB 505 is currently in the House Ways & Means Committee.
House Bill 508: Contains 30 different general tax changes. Among the major provisions in the bill is the removal of the requirement that receipts "contribute to the production of gross income" of a business in order to be considered gross receipts subject to the Commercial Activities Tax (CAT). Additionally, the bill requires CAT filers that pay on a quarterly basis to exclude the taxpayer’s first $1 million of taxable gross receipts in the first quarter of a year and may carry-forward any unused portion of the exclusion amount only to quarters within the same calendar year. The bill is scheduled for its third hearing and a possible vote on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 in the House Ways & Means Committee.
House Bill 510: Includes the proposed financial institutions tax which replaces the existing taxes on financial institutions and dealers in intangibles beginning with tax year 2014. The bill imposes the tax on the basis of the total equity capital in proportion to the taxpayer's gross receipts sitused in Ohio, with situs based on where a taxpayer's customers are deemed to benefit from the taxpayer's services. The bill currently sets the initial tax rate at 0.8% on the first $500 million in apportioned total equity capital and 0.25% on apportioned total equity capital in excess of $500 million, subject to adjustment after the first year if the revenue generated by those rates exceeds or falls below 10% of the "target" revenue of $225 million for 2014. HB 510 is scheduled for its second hearing on April 24, 2012.
House Bill 511: Makes changes to the administration of the investment tax credit, venture capital loan loss tax credit and the new markets tax credit. The bill increases the maximum amount of the investment tax credit and the venture capital loan loss tax credit, eliminates the Industrial Technology and Enterprise Advisory Councils, and accelerates the receipt of new markets tax credit installments. The bill is scheduled for its second hearing on April 25, 2012.
House Bill 512: Authorizes the Governor to execute the necessary deeds for the conveyance of 13 state properties. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Ohio Historical Society to execute a deed conveying state-owned real estate to the United States, and the Director of Administrative Services to execute an easement granting to the City of Cambridge a perpetual interest in real estate associated with an existing water supply line at the Cambridge Developmental Center. The bill is scheduled for its third hearing in the House State Government Committee on April 24, 2012.
House Bill 513: Specifies that the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) may enter into lease-purchase agreements with any person or political subdivision in the state for any public purpose or private use for the benefit of the state. The bill is scheduled for its third hearing in the House State Government Committee on April 24, 2012.
House Bill 514: Authorizes the ODOT Director to enter into an agreement or contract with any entity to establish a traveler information program to provide real-time traffic conditions and travel time information free to travelers. The bill is scheduled for its second hearing in the House Transportation Committee on April 25, 2012.
3. Legislation approved this week
The Ohio Senate met on April 18 and approved the following bills:
- Senate Bill 70: Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R- Lancaster), the bill establishes a registry for arson offenders.
- Senate Bill 273: Sponsored by Senator Keith Faber (R- Celina), the bill permits a licensed salvage motor vehicle auction or salvage motor vehicle pool to auction and sell salvage motor vehicles to authorized purchasers.
- Senate Bill 309: Sponsored by Senator Cliff Hite (R- Findlay), the legislation would establish procedures and requirements for the establishment of marketing agreements for agricultural commodities.
The Ohio House met on April 18 and approved the following bills:
- Senate Bill 268: Sponsored by Senator John Eklund (R- Chardon), the bill provides for the taking of a DNA specimen from a person charged with a felony who is not arrested for the offense or whose DNA specimen related to a felony offense was not taken when otherwise required.
- House Bill 327: Sponsored by Representative Anne Gonzales (R- Westerville), the bill would authorize employers who meet certain wage and other requirements to receive a job creation tax credit for the employment of home-based employees and to require the Director of Development to issue a report on the credit after six years.
- House Concurrent Resolution 33: Sponsored by Representatives Tim Derickson (R- Oxford) and Craig Newbold (R- Columbiana), the resolution urges the U.S. Congress to take action on the federal Workforce Investment Act to allow states greater flexibility to address current economic realities.
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