Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kimberly Murnieks told the House Finance Infrastructure and American Rescue Plan Subcommittee Tuesday that more than $26 billion in federal funding was allocated to or through the state of Ohio to respond to or recover from the pandemic. She said that most of that funding has been appropriated by the General Assembly over the past three years, and $19 billion has been fully expended. This answered in part one of the questions subcommittee Chair Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord) had identified as the charge for the subcommittee: to determine what is left. Other questions he wants the group to get answered include identifying what restrictions the federal government has placed on the funds, what specifically Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed spending in the FY24-25 budget, and what the subcommittee's preferences are for distributing what is left.
JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef discussed the economic development nonprofit's strategies for innovation with the House Technology and Innovation Committee Wednesday, saying it centers on three elements of innovation districts, research and development (R&D) and JobsOhio's growth capital fund.
Nauseef also credited the Legislature's passage of megaproject provisions in attracting Intel, Honda, Ford and Medpace projects, and said JobsOhio is having "active discussions" on 16 potential megaprojects that are in the pipeline for this year. He explained how the strategy was meant to address deficiencies Ohio faced, as it was 37th in STEM degree growth rate and last among 17 peer states for venture capital investment. The innovation districts in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus will be "nationally competitive" through a $300 million investment by JobsOhio over 10 years. That should lead to over 60,000 new jobs, 47,500 new STEM degrees and $9 billion in economic impact. JobsOhio worked with the Brookings Institute to plan those investments.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) said Friday the unemployment rate dropped to 4% in January, down from a revised 4.1% in December 2022. ODJFS will release data for February on March 24. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its February unemployment numbers on Friday as well, with nonfarm employment rising by 311,000. The unemployment rate nationally edged up to 3.6% and the number of unemployed persons rose to 5.9 million with "little net movement since early 2022." The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in January was 229,000, down from 236,000 in December. The January unemployment rate for Ohio decreased 0.1% from 4.1% in January 2022. The U.S. unemployment rate for January 2023 was 3.4%, down from 3.5% in December 2022, and down from 4.0% in January 2022.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a letter to the executive director of a multi-state cooperative threatening to end Ohio's participation in the compact that shares voting and motor vehicle registration records to help root out voter fraud after conservatives criticized the effort. Three states -- Florida, Missouri and West Virginia -- announced they were pulling out of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) earlier, and LaRose told ERIC officials that Ohio could follow if changes are not made.
In his letter, LaRose said from its inception, the organization "has maintained questionable ties to ex-officio board members with highly partisan reputations." He said that while most of the states had "tolerated this association, the ongoing presence and influence of these polarizing figures has become a distraction, if not a deterrent, to long overdue reforms" to ERIC's governing documents.
Bills signed by the governor include the following:
SB10INTERNAL REVENUE CODE CHANGES (BLESSING III L) To amend section 5701.11 of the Revised Code and to amend Sections 225.12, 265.10, 265.20, and 701.10 of H.B. 45 of the 134th General Assembly to expressly incorporate changes in the Internal Revenue Code since Feb. 17, 2022, into Ohio law, to make changes to the Emergency Rental Assistance program, to revise an existing earmark, to modify the requirements for a temporary arts economic relief grant program, and to declare an emergency.
The House Ways and Means Committee heard warnings Tuesday of costs to homeowners and revenue losses to local governments from the income and property tax overhaul in HB1, while also getting a history lesson on decades old statutory mechanisms to control property tax inflation. Tuesday's committee hearing was dedicated to opponent testimony on HB1 (Matthews), a sweeping proposal to cut income taxes and pair repeal of state property tax subsidies with a reduction in the proportion of property value to which tax rates are applied. But the meeting led off with a presentation by Sam Benham, division chief of taxation and economic development for the Legislative Service Commission (LSC), who spoke about property tax reduction factors related to 111-HB920, adopted in 1976 and then updated following a 1980 constitutional amendment to create different classes of property. Chair Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) said he'd invited LSC to provide the background information after questions about HB920 arose in prior hearings.
The Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday unveiled its version of HB23 (Edwards), the transportation budget, adding to rail safety provisions adopted by the House while removing the $1 billion General Revenue Fund appropriation for a new Rural Highway Fund. In announcing the changes, committee Chair Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) said the fund was removed because it appeared it would only apply to a dozen projects in the state, and suggested it could be worked out further through the biennial budget process. The new version retains the House-added rail safety provisions, including two-man crews for freight trains and the notification of crew of wayside detector errors. It also added new provisions including requiring wayside detectors to be generally installed 10 to 15 miles apart and requiring the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to oversee proper installation.
Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO John Logue highlighted the in-person return of BWC's Safety Congress and Expo in his remarks to the BWC board Friday. The event was held from Wednesday through Friday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and had been virtual during the pandemic. Logue said there were over 7,000 registered attendees and 200 exhibitor booths this year. Logue further noted the BWC Medical and Health Symposium will be held Thursday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6. It is a virtual event this year, with more information available at https://tinyurl.com/v9upptsz.
This feature was provided by Hannah New Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations Staff.