Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today in the Ohio Senate

Email: <blockquote>At today’s session (1:30pm), the Senate will consider the following conference committee report:

  • Budget Reform: House Bill 487 sponsored by State Representative Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) is a comprehensive review of the enacted state budget, state policy programs and agency operations. The process has identified hundreds of changes to improve state services and streamline programs to better serve Ohioans. In addition to the $42 million in “green projects” for the Clean Ohio program, $15 million has been added for the Clean Ohio brownfield remediation. An appropriation of $13 million was added to support Governor Kasich’s Third grade reading guarantee and $3 million for Healthy Lake Erie.
The Senate will consider the following legislation:
  • Pension Reforms: At the request of the Ohio’s public pension systems, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus and Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney co-sponsored bipartisan landmark legislation designed to protect the more than 1.7 million Ohioans enrolled in various state plans. The Senate will vote on the State Highway Patrol Retirement System reform bill, after passing legislation last week to reform the other four state pension funds.
  • Collateral Sanctions: Senate Bill 337, sponsored by Senators Bill Seitz (R- Green Township) and Shirley Smith (D- Cleveland), builds on Ohio sentencing reforms by eliminating barriers that many non-violent offenders face when trying to obtain employment once they are released from prison. The bill creates a process by which an offender can petition the court for an order of relief from certain prohibitions on employment or occupational licensing, but retains certain safeguards – for example, a person convicted of check fraud would be prohibited from working as a bank teller.  It also contains protections for employers who hire former offenders.
  • Medical Licensing: House Bill 292, sponsored by State Representative Anne Gonzalez (R- Westerville), establishes a licensing process for genetic counselors in Ohio. Genetic counselors work with health care providers to provide risk estimates for disease and interpret complex test results. While many of these individuals have specialized degrees and expertise, there are currently no state regulations in place to ensure these professionals have adequate training. The bill establishes certain education and certification qualifications in order for a person to obtain a genetic counselor license and also requires continuing education.
  • Improving Veteran Services: House Bill 490, sponsored by State Representatives Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Al Landis (R-Dover) enhances the work of the Department of Veteran Services by modernizing and improving services and benefits for veterans and their families.
  • Local Government Reforms: House Bill 509, sponsored by State Representative Terry Blair (R-Washington Township) helps improve local government operational efficiencies. Among other reforms, the bill raises competitive bidding thresholds, permits larger numbers for health insurance groups and allows local boards of health to contract with each other.
  • Adapting To Growth:  Sponsored by State Representative Louis Terhar (R-Cincinnati), House Bill 408 would change the composition of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) by raising its total board membership from five to seven members. As the CMHA continues to grow, the addition of two board members will allow for those areas affected by growth to have a voice on the board.