COLUMBUS - State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation providing additional training opportunities, helping equip Ohio's local police chiefs as leaders in their departments and communities.

Sponsored by Senator Hite, the legislation would establish a 40-hour police chief training program designed for newly appointed local police chiefs. Course content would include diversity training with an emphasis on historical perspectives and community-police relations. 

"This training program helps prepare local police chiefs to become effective and dynamic leaders in the communities they serve," said Senator Hite. 

In 2015, Ada Police Chief Michael Harnishfeger approached Senator Hite with the idea of establishing the training program. Senate Bill 37 is the result of extensive collaboration between the Ohio Attorney General's office and the Ohio Police Chiefs Association.

If signed into law, newly appointed police chiefs would be required to attend the training program, provided by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, beginning in January 2018.

Senate Bill 37 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
Senator Hoagland speaks on the floor of the Ohio Senate, Wednesday, in favor of his legislation, which would provide significant funding for local infrastructure projects.

COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate approved legislation today, sponsored by Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), making significant infrastructure investments in local communities throughout the state.

"The condition of our roads and bridges is an ongoing concern for southeast Ohio," said Senator Hoagland. "Investing in local bridge projects helps to support economic development and makes Ohio's roadways safer for the traveling public."

Ohio has the most bridges of any state, except Texas, with more than 26,000 structures. In 2015, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimated that more than 1,800 of Ohio's bridges are structurally deficient, with another 4,200 deemed functionally obsolete.

Created by executive action in October of 2013, the Ohio Bridge partnership Program has invested approximately $138 million for repairing and replacing more than 200 bridges statewide. The program is set to expire at the end of June 2017. 

Bridges must meet the following criteria to be eligible for funding: be more than 20 feet in length; be deemed structurally deficient; must currently be open and carrying vehicular traffic; and must not be currently funded by other sources. 

Senate Bill 6 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

$7.8 Billion Investment in State Highway System

The Senate also approved legislation today investing $7.8 billion to fund the construction, maintenance and safety of the state's transportation system. The Ohio Department of Transportation estimates that the budget will support and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next two years. 

"Well-maintained roads and bridges are an important consideration for companies seeking to expand their operations and create jobs here in Ohio," said Hoagland. "This budget invests in critical infrastructure and provides additional dollars for counties and municipalities."

Passed by the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support, House Bill 26 provides funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Public Works Commission and Development Services Agency.

"This bill makes critical investments in infrastructure, improving roads and bridges throughout the state of Ohio," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). "The bill also makes improvements in government efficiency and includes key changes to make Ohio a more attractive place to do business."

Among the bill's provisions included in the Senate-passed version:

  • Additional Funding to Local Governments: Allocates an additional $48 million in funding over the biennium from the existing motor fuel tax revenue to counties and municipalities for the improvement of local roads and bridges. This is above the $124 million proposed by the Administration.
     
  • Bringing Business Back to Ohio: Reduces the registration fee for high-volume, commercial vehicle fleets, encouraging this business to stay in Ohio, resulting in more job opportunities and economic development in Ohio's trucking and commercial vehicle industry. It also modernizes and streamlines the current registration process.
     
  • Enhanced Consumer Protections: Requires any entity other than the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to use a prominent disclaimer about fees charged for services that are already provided by authorized local registrars and the state-provided website.
     
  • Increasing Efficiency: Allows townships and municipal corporations to enter into agreements to share services as it relates to maintenance, repair and the improvement of their roads by creating joint road districts.
     
  • More Funding for Public Transit: At least $33 million per year will be invested in public transit options across the state. The bill also directs an additional $15 million from an existing emissions settlement towards public transit vehicles powered by clean energy.


House Bill 26 now proceeds to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today appointed State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) to serve on the 14-member governing board for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. 

"The Commission plays an integral role in Ohio's legislative process, providing important support services for the members of the General Assembly on a daily basis," said Senator Peterson. "I look forward to representing the Ohio Senate and providing guidance to the Commission in this role."

Established in 1953, The Legislative Service Commission (LSC) is a nonpartisan agency that provides drafting, research, training and other services for the members and staff of the Ohio General Assembly.

LSC is currently accepting applications from recent college graduates for its 2017 Fellowship program. Applications are due by April 1st. To learn more about the program, click here

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced today that expanded televised coverage of Senate standing committees will begin next week. In addition to the Finance Committee already being televised, the following committees will be part of the live coverage: Education; Transportation, Commerce and Workforce; and Health, Human Services and Medicaid. The Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee will replace the Transportation Committee in the broadcast schedule at the conclusion of the biennial budget process in June.  

Today's announcement comes during "Sunshine Week," an initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government and their right to access information. Committee coverage will be provided by The Ohio Channel, a service of Ohio's public broadcasting stations, which provides coverage of the Senate's full legislative sessions, also streamed on OhioSenate.gov
 
“Open, accountable government is a priority for the Senate,” said President Obhof. “Technology gives us the opportunity to increase transparency and participation by bringing the legislative process to Ohioans wherever they are, and we look forward to using it to provide our constituents with greater access.”

Next week's coverage of the Transportation Committee will include deliberations on the important state transportation budget, which funds Ohio's roads, highways, bridges and other infrastructure and brings thousands of jobs to the state. For a full listing of committee meetings and times, click here.

The Senate also championed access to public records last year, as Senate Bill 321 created an expedited process for individuals whose public record requests have been denied by a public office at the state or local levels. Ohioans can now file a complaint with the Court of Claims that will begin with a mediation process designed to resolve the dispute over access to the requested public records. 

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the court has accepted nearly three dozen appeals since the bill's effective date almost six months ago. Ten cases have been settled as part of the first-step mediation process, with those denied records winning them in nine cases. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – Senate President Larry Obhof (R–Medina) announced the Senate passage of legislation that would eliminate unnecessary primary elections for uncontested party nominations.  The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 10 last week, which was sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and co-sponsored by Obhof.  
 
Under current law, boards of elections are required to hold primary elections when two or more people file to run for an office, even if only one candidate remains on the ballot after the death, withdrawal or disqualification of other candidates.  This has caused boards of elections to hold unnecessary primary elections throughout Ohio.  One notable example occurred in southwest Ohio following the resignation of Speaker John Boehner from Congress.  The September 2016 special Democratic primary for that position cost taxpayers an estimated $340,800 even though the race was uncontested. 
 
Senate Bill 10 would prevent unnecessary, single-candidate elections in the future – saving money, employee time and other resources.  The bill will change the law to trigger a primary election based on the number of candidates who are actually certified to appear on the ballot, not the number of candidates who initially file. 
 
“Senate Bill 10 will remove an unnecessary and expensive mandate from our local boards of elections,” said Obhof.  “This commonsense change will save hundreds of man hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars.”
 
Senate Bill 10 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) joined today with Governor Kasich and the leadership of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) to announce a one-time rebate of approximately $1 billion to Ohio's private employers and public-taxing districts. This will be the third such rebate in the last four years.

Prudent fiscal management and a focus on worker safety and wellness has enabled BWC to continue to grow and see strong investment returns making this rebate possible. Ohio has reduced rates for the state's employers by nearly 30 percent since 2011. The bureau has also improved programs designed to reduce workplace injuries and has focused more on helping injured Ohioans receive the care they need to return to work.

"This rebate gives Ohio's employers an opportunity to reinvest these savings into expansion and hiring, and that translates into jobs for Ohio families," said President Obhof. "I commend BWC for its sound management and investment decisions. Today presents another important step in our efforts to improve Ohio's business climate."

To become effective, the proposal will first go to the BWC Board of Directors for review, with an expected vote on April 28. If approved, BWC expects to begin sending checks in early July 2017. Most rebates are expected to equal 66 percent of an employer's premium for the policy year ending June 30, 2016 (calendar year 2015 for public employers). Over $90 million of the total rebate will go to local governments.

Ohio's workers' compensation rates have gone from 3rd highest in the nation in 2008 to 11th lowest, according to the Oregon Study, a nationally recognized benchmark of rates.

 
 
  
 
Turning Heartbreak Into Hope: Our Fight To Prevent Deadly Meningitis
A Guest Column by State Senator Cliff Hite
March 09, 2017
 
 

March 9th is Meningitis Awareness Day in the State of Ohio. I know firsthand the heartbreak that meningitis can cause. My family lost my niece, Tess, to this terrible disease and I have made it a top priority to do all that I can to empower parents to protect their kids from meningitis. It was in her memory that I sponsored Senate Bill 275 during the 130th General Assembly, now known as Tess’s Law, requiring the meningitis vaccine for students entering 7th and 12th grades.

Often striking quickly in young victims and causing severe health risks or even death within hours, meningitis is a preventable tragedy that no parent or family member should ever have to face. The law protects a parent’s right to opt their children out of the immunizations for matters of conscience, including religious beliefs.

Tess’s Law is my way of helping raise awareness about this terrible disease and helping lessen the numbers of those affected every year. I know that this law will help save lives which is the best possible outcome following the loss my own family has endured.

Please help me spread the word about the importance of getting your children vaccinated.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at (614) 466-8150, or email me at Hite@OhioSenate.gov. Fore more information regarding Tess's law, click here.

 
 
  
Senator Beagle delivers proponent testimony establishing "Ohio Deaf History Month" using an American Sign Language interpreter today at the Ohio Statehouse.

COLUMBUS - State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) today announced the Senate passage of legislation that would designate March 13 through April 15 as "Ohio Deaf History Month" in an effort to raise awareness for deaf history and culture throughout Ohio. 

"Deaf history is rich and complex, but not without adversity," said Senator Beagle, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. "Advancements in technology and the emphasis on early detection are especially noteworthy and this legislation pays tribute to those who have made important contributions to the deaf community."

Advocates for the deaf community hope that Ohio Deaf History Month will be an opportunity to focus efforts on celebrating deaf culture and educating the public about the deaf community's rich history.

"We want to thank Senator Beagle for proposing this piece of legislation," wrote Dawn Watts, co-founder of Citizens of Deaf Culture. "We are excited about this new opportunity for sharing the vibrant culture and history of the deaf community, which has made a significant impact on Ohio and American history."

Senate Bill 27 celebrates the progress made by the deaf community over the last 200 years. Ohio Deaf History Month's beginning date of March 13 commemorates the date Dr. I. Jordan King was elected as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in 1988. The ending date of April 15th recognizes the establishment of our nation's first permanent school for the deaf in 1817.

The legislation now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), Chairman of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee, today released the tentative hearing schedule for the transportation budget process in the Ohio Senate.

“Transportation issues touch the lives of all Ohioans," said LaRose. "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft a transportation budget that invests in Ohio's diverse transportation infrastructure to enhance prosperity and improve safety for Ohio’s families.”

The first day of the transportation budget process will feature informal testimony provided by the directors of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Public Works Commission and Development Services Agency. 

The Senate will begin formal hearings on the transportation budget following its passage by the House of Representatives, which is expected next week. 


Senate Transportation Budget Hearing Schedule

Week of February 27
  • Agency Testimony: Tuesday, February 28, beginning at 9 a.m.
Week of March 6
  • Agency Testimony (if needed) and Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 7
  • Public Testimony: Wednesday, March 8
Week of March 13
  • Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 14
  • Public Testimony: Wednesday, March 15
  • Public Testimony: Thursday, March 16 (if needed)
Week of March 20
  • Public Testimony: Monday, March 20
  • Public Testimony: Tuesday, March 21
  • Committee Vote: Wednesday, March 22
 
 
  

COLUMBUS -Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced that the Ohio Senate has passed Senate Bill 9 which would create the Ohio Sales Tax Holiday in time for the back-to-school shopping season. 

The sales tax holiday provides a sales and use tax exemption for customers purchasing certain retail items during the first weekend in August (August 4th, 5th and 6th) and is intended to boost sales while giving taxpayers a break.

"Renewing the sales tax holiday will help Ohio's families keep more of their hard earned money as they prepare for the next school year," said Obhof. "This legislation provides Ohioans the opportunity to save money on essential clothing and school items, reducing the financial strain on families while increasing sales for local businesses." 

In 2015 and 2016, the widely advertised tax-free shopping period was praised by both back-to-school shoppers and retailers. This year's proposal would require all online and in-store vendors to waive the collection of local and state sales taxes on designated items during the three-day tax holiday.

“The Ohio Sales Tax Holiday has proven to be a win-win for parents, students and businesses alike," added the bill's sponsor, Senator Kevin Bacon. "It’s important that we renew the tax break this year to ensure Ohio families benefit from these savings opportunities."

Savings would again apply to items of clothing priced at $75 or less, commonly used school supplies—crayons, book bags, pencils, etc.—priced at $20 or less, and school instructional materials like textbooks and workbooks priced at $20 or less. The price limits apply per item, so consumers can buy as many tax-exempt items under the price limit as they wish, either online or in stores.

Ohio was one of 17 states to host a sales tax holiday last year. The average family with school-age children planned to spend an estimated $673 on back-to-school supplies and clothing in 2016, or $470 without factoring in the cost of computers and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.

Senate Bill 9 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
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Featured Posts

Senate Approves Legislation Investing In Training For Local Police Chiefs

 

"This training program helps prepare local police chiefs to become effective and dynamic leaders in the communities they serve," said Senator Hite. 



 
 

Hoagland Announces Senate Passage Of Investments In Local Bridge Projects And State Highway System

 

"The condition of our roads and bridges is an ongoing concern for southeast Ohio," said Senator Hoagland. "Investing in local bridge projects helps to support economic development and makes Ohio's roadways safer for the traveling public."



 
 

Peterson Appointed To Legislative Service Commission

 

"The Commission plays an integral role in Ohio's legislative process, providing important support services for the members of the General Assembly on a daily basis," said Senator Peterson. "I look forward to representing the Ohio Senate and providing guidance to the Commission in this role."



 
 

Senate President Announces Expanded Televised Committee Coverage To Begin Next Week

 

“Open, accountable government is a priority for the Senate,” said President Obhof. “Technology gives us the opportunity to increase transparency and participation by bringing the legislative process to Ohioans wherever they are, and we look forward to using it to provide our constituents with greater access.”