Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ohio House Passes Economic Development Bills, Continues to Promote Job Creation in Ohio

COLUMBUS—Maintaining a focus on job creation in Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed a series of bills that aim to create jobs and encourage economic development within the state of Ohio, specifically by permitting tax credits for home-based employees, offering incentives for businesses to expand into vacant facilities, and urging Congress to take action on the Workforce Investment Act.

“Job creation and economic development has continued to be the number-one issue for members of the House Republican Caucus, and during today’s ‘Economic Development Day,’ we built upon the strong foundation that we have fostered over the past 15 and a half months,” said Speaker Batchelder. “We remain committed to the ability of Ohioans find work and provide for their families, and the legislation that we’ve passed today will help us to achieve that goal.”

House Bill 327, which was sponsored by State Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), permits a company tax credit for employees whose services are performed primarily from their homes to be included in the Job Creation Tax Credit and Job Retention Tax Credit programs. This legislation enhances the current tax credits to include the increasing number of companies that utilize employees who work from their homes.

“With more and more companies employing home-based employees, House Bill 327 will give Ohio a competitive edge to help create opportunities for job creation and business growth,” said Representative Gonzales. “Ohio should take the lead on ensuring that our companies have the tools they need to create jobs and retain employees. This legislation is an important step in that effort.”

The House also passed House Concurrent Resolution 33 to urge the United States Congress to take action on the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and to allow states greater flexibility to address their current economic realities. In 1998 Congress passed the WIA with the intent of reauthorization every five years. However, it has been 12 years since the WIA was reauthorized, and the program fails to meet the needs of a very different economic situation than what existed more than a decade ago.

“We need to ensure that states have the tools and resources they need to manage training programs and ensure that workers have the skills to obtain available jobs,” said Representative Tim Derickson (R-Oxford), who jointly sponsored HCR 33 with Representative Craig Newbold (R-Columbiana).

“The Workforce Investment Act is a worthwhile, pro-economy program that needs to be updated to fit our current workforce needs,” Representative Newbold said. “I’m pleased that HCR 33 passed with bipartisan support from the House today.”

Additionally, the House voted to concur on Senate changes to House Bill 18, which authorizes a $500 per-employee grant for a business that expands into a facility that has been vacant for 12 months and creates new jobs. This legislation would encourage businesses that need to add new employees and have made the decision to relocate to a larger facility to consider occupying a vacant building. By occupying buildings where businesses have left, companies will be entering economies full of citizens who need jobs and are ready to work.

“House Bill 18 strives to encourage economic development in communities that have been hard-hit by job loss and industry deterioration,” said Representative Nan Baker (R-Westlake), the sponsor of the bill. “New and expanding companies could revitalize these buildings and bring prosperity back to the hardest hit communities.”

During the 129th General Assembly, a top priority for the House Republican Caucus has been job creation, starting with the passage of House Bill 1—which created the lean, non-profit economic development entity JobsOhio. Since then, the House has passed numerous economy-focused bills, including House Bill 58 (a job retention and tax conformity bill that will save taxpayers nearly $50 million), House Bill 114 (the transportation budget that included significant monies for public works jobs), House Bill 133 (to safely and responsibly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help Ohioans keep more of their own money), House Bill 153 (the state budget that closed an $8 billion deficit without tax increases), and House Bill 243 (to lighten bureaucratic permit restrictions on micro-distillers in Ohio).

“House Bills 18 and 327, as well as HCR 33, will help to promote a brighter, more prosperous future for Ohio, just as our other jobs bills have done,” Speaker Batchelder said. “We will maintain this focus over the coming months to keep Ohio’s momentum moving in the right direction and making our state more competitive nationally and internationally.”