Debates on the merits of raising the constitutional amendment passage threshold and on putting that question to voters in an unusual statewide summer election continued Thursday in separate House committees, as the clock ticks down for lawmakers to make a decision. Secretary of State Frank LaRose has urged lawmakers to put plans in place by Wednesday, May 10. The House Constitutional Resolutions Committee heard from sponsors and proponents Thursday on SJR1 (McColley), which would place an amendment on the ballot to require a 60 percent passage rate for future amendments. That committee has already adopted HJR1 (Stewart), the companion measure. The House Government Oversight Committee, meanwhile, took opponent testimony on SB92 (McColley-Gavarone) and HB144 (Manchester), which would authorize and fund an August special election for voters to decide the 60 percent threshold issue. Numerous witnesses in the oversight hearing said they'd shown up to speak after being denied the ability to testify on HJR1 in the resolutions committee recently.
A large, bipartisan majority of the House voted Wednesday to approve a two-year budget plan that advances implementation of the new school funding formula, boosts pay for direct service providers caring for older Ohioans and those with disabilities, and moves Ohio closer to a flat income tax structure. The chamber ducked consideration of any floor amendments to HB33 (Edwards) when, after several representatives favoring passage had spoken, Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) rose to call the previous question, triggering a vote to end debate, which passed 74-23. The bill itself then passed 77-19. During breaks in floor remarks, several Republicans repeatedly stood to call for recognition or move amendments, but Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) instead recognized others who were urging passage of the bill.
Inflation and a difficult labor market are taking a toll on Ohio's small businesses, NFIB Ohio State Director Chris Ferruso said recently. "Small business owners need predictability, but the current economic climate is making it hard for them to plan ahead," Ferruso said. Ferruso made the comments as his organization released its latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which decreased 0.8 points in March to 90.1. That is the 15th consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98, NFIB said. Twenty-four percent of owners reported inflation as their single most important business problem, down four points from last month. Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months remain at a net negative 47 percent.
The Ohio Department of Development (DOD) announced Tuesday the Minority Development Financing Advisory Board (MDFAB) had approved over $2.1 million to support six minority- and women-owned businesses around the state. Five of the six recipients received funds through the Women's Business Enterprise Loan Program, which has $3.4 million remaining. There is also $8.5 million available through the Ohio Minority Business Bonding Program and more than $5.2 million through the Ohio Micro-Loan Program.
Ohio has regained all jobs lost during COVID-19 and continues to see unemployment drop steadily since December, based on figures released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Friday. The state's jobless rate of 3.8 percent in March is 0.1 percent less than in February but still well off the national average of 3.5 percent, which also fell 0.1%, and higher than neighboring Indiana's 3.1% and West Virginia's 3.4% unemployment. WalletHub now puts Ohio's overall employment performance -- a combination of the current jobless figure and the rate of change since the prior month and year-over-year results -- at 34th nationally, below West Virginia at 13th and Indiana at 28th but higher than Pennsylvania (4.2 percent) at 41st and Michigan (4.1 percent) at 42nd .
SECRETARY OF STATE
Secretary of State (SOS) Frank LaRose announced 18,881 new business filings in March 2023, a decrease of 527 from March 2022. The first quarter of 2023 saw the highest new business creation in state history with 51,881 new business filings. It is an increase of 1,485 over March 2022 quarterly numbers.
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