Week in Review > Week In Review 6-26-23Posted by Paul Imhoff on June 26th, 2023
Values under the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program are going up in 2023, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT). The average CAUV value for cropland is $1,433 per acre in 2023, up from $999 in 2022, ODT Program Administrator Stephanie Stultz-Wynkoop said during a virtual hearing on Thursday. “With each variable in the CAUV formula, we are seeing trends that are going to drive up the values,” she said. “Crop yields and prices are increasing and putting upward pressure on the gross income calculation and variable. Expenses are down for two of our major crops — soybeans and wheat — which is resulting in higher net operating incomes. And the capitalization rate has remained relatively flat.” The capitalization rate is 8 percent for 2023, which is up from 7.8 percent in 2022.
More Ohio farmland will remain Ohio farmland. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) recently announced the following multiple new additions to the Farmland Preservation Program:
– Ronnie and Jackie Johnson (Darke County) – 20 acres
– Karen Riddle (Champaign County) – 80 acres
– Rowe Family Farm (Highland County) – 209 acres
– Jeffery and Mark Truster (Butler County) – 71 acres
– Jan Bratton and son Michael Bratton (Fulton County) – 88 acres
So far in 2023, 13 farms have joined the program.
AUDITOR OF STATE
The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office served subpoenas to 17 schools that did not adequately respond to its survey seeking information on financial support of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of EdChoice vouchers. According to a letter Auditor Keith Faber wrote to members of the Senate on June 16, 10 schools refused to respond or were unresponsive to the survey, and three responses were “substantially incomplete.” “Four schools subsequently provided responses or additional information after being served subpoenas,” Faber said. Those schools were Middletown City School District, East Liverpool City School District, Marlington Local School District and Hudson City School District.
Budget negotiators will have more money to work with as they try to reconcile versions of the FY24-25 budget bill, although the latest forecasts do show a slight reduction in projected revenue for the second year of the biennium. Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks and Legislative Service Commission (LSC) Director Wendy Zhan presented updated forecasts for tax revenues and the Medicaid caseload at Thursday’s initial meeting of the conference committee on HB33 (Edwards). OBM added $513 million to its FY24 forecast but dropped its FY25 forecast by $84 million. LSC projects $334 million more in FY24 and $42.6 million less in FY25 as compared to February forecasts. OBM predicts an even larger FY23 surplus to end this biennium, with $387 million more expected compared to the February forecast. For FY24, OBM projects $513 million more in revenue, while projections for FY25 are slightly lower, down $84 million. Zhan said LSC projects $294.3 million more in surplus revenue to end FY23, $334 million more in revenue for FY24 compared to February forecasts, and $42.6 million less than forecast for FY25. Legislators on the panel did not ask them any questions.
The meeting opened with a decision to work off the most recent version, the Senate’s, and to abide by traditional rules requiring a majority of members from both chambers to approve amendments and the final conference report.
Some lawmakers’ disagreement with how Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) carries out its advocacy and assistance work sparked another round of budget amendments affecting the nonprofit. DRO argues the amendments will interfere with its federally required duties. DRO is designated to operate a client assistance program (CAP) and protection and advocacy system (P&A), which Ohio must have as a condition of receiving federal funding for developmental disability services, mental health and other programs. Some legislators have questioned DRO’s methods in counseling people with disabilities about their options for services in the community, particularly conversations with children or people who have profound disabilities without a parent or guardian present. DRO has said the P&A system is meant to recognize the independent voices of people with disabilities, even those with guardians. In the prior budget bill, 134-HB110 (Oelslager), lawmakers created a special study committee to scrutinize DRO’s work. That panel eventually issued a report urging that another entity be assigned to operate the CAP and P&A and suggesting the work come back into the state government fold.
Ohio’s electric, natural gas and water utilities would draw from nearly $1 billion in “All Ohio Future” funding for infrastructure projects in FY24 under last week’s Senate-passed budget. As an alternative, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) could grant electric and gas distribution companies a new customer billing rider supporting economic development. The electric utility rider’s price tag remains unknown, while natural gas companies could impose a $3 monthly billing charge to construct pipelines and facilities. Executive language for HB33 (Edwards) proposed renaming the current Investing in Ohio Fund as the All Ohio Future Fund and authorizing it for “necessary infrastructure.” The House followed with a substitute budget specifying electric distribution and transmission as eligible projects, and the Senate answered by adding natural gas, water and sewer to the list. Water companies could not use All Ohio money for new or expanded wastewater treatment facilities, while natural gas utilities could defer uncollected infrastructure costs above the $3 monthly cap for future billing. In addition to $40 million appropriated by the governor and retained by House and Senate, the Senate version provides transfer authority of $917 million in remaining FY23 general revenue funds (GRF) for the All Ohio Future Fund. That represents an increase from the $500 million proposed by the House and a decrease from the $2.4 billion proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
Ahead of the creation of the conference committee on the proposed FY24-25 budget, HB33 (Edwards), a number of Democrats from both the House and Senate held a news conference to urge restoration of the House funding for the Maritime Assistance Program (MAP). Rep. Michele Grim (D-Toledo) explained that the previous state appropriation of $43 million “has allowed ports to secure $150 million in matching federal funds to support billions of dollars in private investment and thousands of jobs. If this funding is not restored, then another port in another state will receive these funds. The MAP is integral to improving Ohio’s maritime commerce and economy,” she noted, seeking reinstatement of the $40 million biennial appropriation included in the House-passed version of the budget. Also joining her were Reps. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Sean Brennan (D-Parma), Elliot Forhan (D-South Euclid) and Elgin Rogers Jr. (D-Toledo) and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo).
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in May, setting a new record low and breaking the previous one of 3.7 percent set in April. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) also said Friday that the state added 6,600 jobs over the month. ODJFS said the number of workers unemployed in Ohio in May was 207,000, down from 211,000 in April. The number of unemployed has decreased by 16,000 in the past 12 months from 223,000. The May unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.3 percent from 3.9 percent a year ago in May 2022. The U.S. unemployment rate for May 2023 was 3.7 percent, up from 3.4 percent in April 2023, and up from 3.6 percent in May 2022.
While national test scores continue to show declines after the pandemic, particularly for the lowest performing students, a recent report backed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looks at how schools and states can better support “advanced learners” or potentially advanced learners. The report — “Building a Wider, More Diverse Pipeline of Advanced Learners” — was authored by the National Working Group on Advanced Education, which was convened by the Fordham Institute, an Ohio-based think tank that researches education and advocates for charter schools and school choice. The working group was composed of 20 members, including “researchers, practitioners, and advocates and represent[s] diversity in terms of ideology, race, gender, and geography.”
Ohioans younger than 18 could no longer receive gender-affirming care under legislation passed by the House on Wednesday. The legislation, HB68 (Click), also prohibits transgender women and girls from playing women’s and girls’ school sports. The bill passed 64-28 after about an hour of debate on the House floor. Reps. Brett Hillyer (R-Dennison) and Jamie Callender (R-Concord) joined Democrats in voting against the measure. Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he doesn’t expect HB68 to be taken up over the summer. He pointed to what the chamber did on transgender athletes last year, saying it was a pretty simple measure compared to what the House had passed. The medical care aspect is “a much more serious issue,” he said.
The House also passed HB8 (Swearingen-Carruthers), which would create a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” to require public schools to adopt a parental notification policy on student health and well-being and instructional materials with “sexuality” content. The bill passed 65-29, with Callender joining Democrats in voting against it. Reps. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) said the bill is not intended to discriminate against any group, and is only meant to provide more transparency in schools. They said the bill will encourage more parental involvement in schools, which improves educational outcomes.
In other action in the House on Wednesday, representatives passed HB117 (Manning-Robinson), which eliminates the mandatory retention provision under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
The House also passed construction worker protection bill HB205 (Swearingen-Plummer) and voted against concurrence with Senate amendments to budget bill HB33 (Edwards) by a vote of 23-71.
The House also passed the following bills:
– HB152 (Weinstein-Young), which requires health plans to cover hearing aids and related services to individuals 21 and younger. The vote was 85-8.
– HB73 (Gross-Loychik), which authorizes the prescribing of off-label drugs and requires their dispensing if prescribed. The bill passed 73-17.
– HB129 (Patton), which requires the licensure of commercial roofing contractors. The vote was 61-29.
– HB122 (Pavliga-A. Miller), which expands intimidation offenses to include guardians ad litem and court-appointed special advocates. The bill passed 63-27.
– HB86 (LaRe), which revises certain liquor control laws. The vote was 85-6.
The Senate passed all four pieces of legislation before it Wednesday unanimously, including HB191 (Swearingen-Seitz), which makes changes to Ohio’s bail law in the wake of passage of last year’s state Issue 1 and the Ohio Supreme Court’s rescinding of Criminal Rule 46. Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) explained that the bill is the companion legislation to SB122 (Manning-Hicks-Hudson), which the Senate unanimously passed last month. The legislation includes an emergency clause because the new rules take effect July 1. The bill is now going on to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.
Also unanimously passed by the Senate were SB28 (Roegner), to enter Ohio into the Physician Assistant Licensure Compact, and SCR5 (Craig-Lang), to support and encourage the work of the Ohio Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial in celebrating the nation’s 250th anniversary.
After session, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he is interested in introducing legislation to reform Ohio’s campaign finance and ethics laws. He said it is something he would look to do himself, expressing a desire to work with Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) on the bill. Particularly, Huffman said there are often errors on reports and he wants to find ways to be more proactive on informing elected officials on what they can and can’t do.
The House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday reported out HB205 (Swearingen-Plummer) on a unanimous vote of 13-0 after hearing almost three hours of opponent testimony that included the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Rick Carfagna telling members it is a “key vote” for his organization and will be assigned a “‘double weight’ given its significance.” That was followed by NFIB’s Chris Ferruso saying his group “may consider a vote on this bill a key vote for the 135th General Assembly.” Committee Chair Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) commented that it is unusual to identify those bills before a vote, with Carfagna saying it is a part of their advocacy and this allows legislators to vote with their “eyes wide open.”
The Senate Community Revitalization Committee continued its emphasis on addiction and recovery Wednesday with invited testimony from Ohio Recovery Housing, which said the state is serving less than one in three individuals needing residential treatment, and the Ohio Naloxone Project, which said the opioid overdose reversal drug should be free to a large swath of Ohioans, including pregnant women.
When Dennis Papp started at the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) in 1976, computers were still several years away. At the time, the nonpartisan agency did the work of drafting hundreds of legislative proposals for all 132 members of the Ohio General with typewriters, and as a new hire, Papp didn’t even get that. “I had to do things by hand,” said Papp, who retired from LSC earlier this year after more than 46 years and as the longest serving member of the agency in Ohio history. Papp joined the LSC shortly after finishing law school. He spent much of his career serving the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked with 15 different committee chairs. Papp recently spoke with Hannah News to reflect on his decades of service, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the agency that is essential for state lawmakers to be able to draft and research legislation.
In other action, the House Civil Justice Committee reported out HB179 (Mathews-Stewart), which addresses vicarious liability in tort actions; the House Commerce and Labor Committee reported out HB158, which revises the cosmetologist and barber laws; the House Families and Aging Committee reported out HB5 (Ray-Baker), which modernizes Ohio’s adoption laws; the House Health Provider Services Committee reported out HB188 (Brewer-Baker), which recognizes National Nursing Assistants Week; the House Homeland Security Committee reported out HB167 (Miranda-Abrams), which deals with training for chiefs of police, and HB176 (Grim), which revises the “Ohio Carpenters” license plate; and the Senate Government Oversight Committee reported out SB91 (Schaffer), which deals with fraud, waste and abuse of public funds.
Lawmakers should require the tax commissioner to use a three-year average of data in overseeing county property valuations to dampen the effects of a major runup in valuations pending in some counties, local government officials told a House committee Tuesday. Under HB187 (Hall-Bird), the Ohio Department of Taxation would be required to consider all sales from the three preceding years, rather than a sampling, when performing sales ratio studies that look at valuations versus sale prices. Similar language was incorporated into the Senate-passed version of the budget bill, HB33 (Edwards). Legislators sponsoring the proposal recently held a press conference to address the need for the change, pointing to predicted valuation increases in excess of 30 or 40 percent in some counties.
You have come to the right place for what you need to know about available jobs, our fantastic local employers, and our great community!