The Ohio Ballot Board Monday unanimously adopted a proposed constitutional amendment to increase Ohio's minimum wage as one issue, allowing backers to start collecting signatures on the proposal. Corey Columbo, an attorney representing the petitioners, told the Ballot Board that the issue is nearly the same as it had approved last year with changes to the effective dates and new proposed minimum wage rates. Backers will now need to collect 413,446 valid signatures in order to make the ballot, though it is unknown which ballot they will aim for. After the previous issue cleared the Ballot Board, an attorney for the measure said they were aiming for the 2024 General Election ballot. If the amendment were to appear on this year's ballot, it would need to be submitted by Wednesday, July 5.
House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) told reporters after session Wednesday that the biennial budget is starred for a final House vote on Thursday, April 27, though he signaled potential changes in HB33's (Edwards) final language.
The House unveiled hundreds of revisions to the executive budget proposal Tuesday morning in a substitute bill that uses new cost data for the school funding formula, collapses the bottom two brackets of the income tax and increases direct service provider pay from the executive proposed $16-per-hour to $18-per-hour by the end of the coming biennium. The House changes to HB33 (Edwards) increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) appropriations by $484.3 million or 1.15 percent in FY24 and $809 million or 1.82 percent for FY25; All Funds total would rise by $2.1 billion or 2.23 percent and $1.4 billion or 1.53 percent, respectively.
The House Finance Committee convened Tuesday, adopted the substitute bill without discussion or objection and then adjourned in the space of a few minutes. Speaking with reporters after the vote, committee Chair Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said the House changes aim to benefit middle-income Ohioans. Hence, he said, the decision in tax reform to consolidate the lower rather than upper brackets of the income tax. "I think it's a middle-income, middle-class tax cut that will be very beneficial for the people back home and across the state of Ohio," Edwards said. Specifically, the substitute bill would consolidate the existing 2.765% bracket for incomes between $26,050 and $46,100 and the 3.226% bracket for incomes between $46,100 and $92,150, and set a new rate of 2.75% for the combined bracket.
An economic competitiveness study discussed in the Senate Small Business and Economic Opportunity Committee Tuesday and then released at a Statehouse press conference ranked Ohio 13th nationally in 2022 -- up from 24th in 2018 -- and second in the Great Lakes region. Timothy Nash, director of the McNair Center at Northwood University in Michigan, presented the study. He told the committee the "greatest challenge" to further improving Ohio's position is its tax policy, saying it is "too complicated," particularly due to differences in tax burden within the state. Ohio ranked behind Indiana, which he said is also very business-friendly and the best state in the region for taxes. Areas where Nash said Ohio is doing well included ranking eighth in workforce composition and cost, which he said reflects programs and training in the trades and Ohio's higher education institutions. It was third in "labor and capital formation" and 18th for regulatory environment as well. Nash also praised Ohio for its balanced budget. He told the committee Ohio had been 42nd overall in 2013, indicating "great progress" since then.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said legislators need to set an August special election – which Republicans in the General Assembly have been pushing for to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the threshold for future constitutional amendments to pass -- by Wednesday, May 10. Getting on the August ballot would get the amendment ahead of the November General Election, when Ohio voters could be deciding a proposed amendment that would enshrine reproductive and abortion rights into the Ohio Constitution. There is also a planned amendment that would raise the state minimum wage in the queue. In letters to House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) on Friday, LaRose said boards of elections can conduct that election but asked for at least a 90-day election calendar, the timeline boards usually work on to program voting machines, recruit poll workers, and make other standard preparations. Ninety days from a Tuesday, Aug. 8 election, would be Wednesday, May 10.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy (OBP) recently awarded seven dispensary certificates of operation under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP). There are now 75 dispensaries legally operating under the program.
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission voted Monday to adopt annual toll increases for 2024 through 2028 to keep up with inflation and, in the first two years, provide for upkeep of bridges and other infrastructure. Rates will increase 7.7% on Jan. 1 of both 2024 and 2025, then will increase 2.7% annually through 2028. The resolution authorizing the increases states 2.7% is the estimated inflation rate, while the additional 5% add-on for 2024 and 2025 is to provide funding "to properly maintain the commission's bridges and other infrastructure." The full schedule of tolls for each year is listed at https://tinyurl.com/j69v5yvd.
This feature was provided by Hannah New Service and selected for you by OSCPA Government Relations Staff.