1. Pension legislation The Ohio House Health and Aging Subcommittee on Retirement and Pensions accepted substitute versions of pension reform bills this week in committee. Representatives from the pension systems were at the committee to share their support to the minor changes included in the substitute bills. Many of the changes pertained to effective dates within the bills.
Each system, with the exception of the Public Employees Retirement System, will be given authority to adjust, by rule, retirement eligibility requirements for members. The Ohio Retirement Study Council, the state commission responsible for pension oversight, must study and make recommendations on the authority the bills give the School Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System and the State Highway Patrol Retirement System in adjusting pension benefits. The reports are due within 90 days of the bill’s effective date to the Senate President and House Speaker.
The subcommittee is scheduled to vote on the bills on September 10, 2012 prior to the full health committee votes later that day. The bills will then be considered on the House floor on September 12, 2012. Later that afternoon the Senate will convene to vote on concurrence to House changes made to the bills. The bills are expected to pass with no strong opposition.
2. Former Governor Ted Strickland addresses Democratic National Convention Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland took his turn at the podium this week to address attendees at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Strickland shared stories of auto workers who returned to their jobs following the auto industry bailout, crediting President Obama for refusing to let the American auto industry die. “It's been a long slog back, and we've still got a long way to go,” said Strickland. “But all over Ohio – all over America – men and women are going back to work with the pride of building something stamped ‘Made in America.’”
Strickland is currently considering another run against Governor John Kasich, who pulled out a narrow win against Strickland, the incumbent in, 2010.
3. Ohio voting update U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus ruled last week that the state must restore early voting days three days before the November election. The Obama for America Campaign had filed a lawsuit in July arguing that the repeal of early voting, as included in House Bill 194 and Senate Bill 295, would be arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Attorney General Mike DeWine filed an appeal of the ruling on September 4, 2012. In a news release announcing his intention to appeal the decision, DeWine said, “My job as the attorney general is to defend the laws of the State of Ohio and defend the right of Ohio to set its own law based on the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions. We believe states should have the right to set the hours of election and the time of election.”
In a directive (click here) to county boards of elections on September 4, 2012, Secretary of State Jon Husted announced the state would appeal the decision. As such, he informed the county boards there would be no valid reason for his office or the county boards to set hours for in-person absentee voting the last three days before the election. Husted said that reinstating the final three days of early voting would add to voter confusion should the state win its appeal.
An attorney for the Obama campaign requested that Judge Economus enforce his decision on early voting following the Husted directive. Judge Economus has since ordered Secretary Husted to appear at a hearing on September 13, 2012 to explain his decision not to follow the judge’s orders to restore voting the three days prior to the November 6, 2012 election.
However, today (September 7, 2012), Secretary Husted rescinded his directive (click here) and it is unclear if the hearing will take place on September 13, 2012.
4. Legislation taking effect this week The following bills are among those taking effect this week. A bill becomes effective 90 days following the governor’s action.
- House Bill 327: The act provides for a six-year trial period during which the Ohio Tax Credit Authority may grant a job creation tax credit to an employer on the basis of employees who work from home and whose rate of pay is at least 131 percent of the federal minimum wage. Effective as of September 6, 2012.
- House Bill 436: The act creates the SiteOhio certification program within the Department of Development to certify and market eligible commercial, industrial and manufacturing sites and facilities. Effective as of September 4, 2012.
- House Bill 473: The act establishes a program for the issuance of permits for the withdrawal and consumptive use of waters from the Lake Erie basin and establishes other requirements related to the implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Effective as of September 4, 2012.
- House Bill 508: The act makes various changes to tax law. It exempts from the CAT "unauthorized" insurance companies (i.e., "surplus lines") whose gross premiums are subject to the surplus lines insurance tax. Additionally, it decreases the percentage of business tangible personal property tax fixed-sum levy losses reimbursed to non-school taxing units, from 100 percent of the taxing unit's fixed-sum levy loss to 50 percent. Effective as of September 6, 2012.
- Senate Bill 294: The act makes various changes to environmental law. It authorizes the Director of Environmental Protection to establish within the Environmental Protection Agency a program for providing compliance and pollution prevention assistance to regulated entities. Effective as of September 5, 2012.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Caputo (non-attorney professional)
Rebecca M. Kuhns (non-attorney professional)
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