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12/15/2016

Ohio’s Lame Duck Session Brought Christmas Early

The second year of the 131st General Assembly started off “Like a Lamb” as the legislature held limited Sessions prior to the March Primary Election, then held sporadic Session days until recessing in early June. Obviously, everyone was focused on the upcoming Conventions; the Republican in Cleveland, and the Democratic in Philadelphia. However, after over 6 months of legislative recess, the 131st General Assembly roared out of town “Like a Lion” late last week! During the past few weeks, the Ohio House and Senate held between 30-50 committee hearings a week, moving dozens of bills out of committee, onto the respective chambers floor, then over to the other chamber in hopes of securing passage before the end of the Session. We also had several “Christmas Tree” bills where multiple subjects (over 20 separate items in the last Christmas Tree bill to be voted on) and/or other complete bills, were hung on in the hopes of moving as much through the process as possible. The Speaker and the Senate President officially gaveled Session adjourned at 3:30 a.m. on Friday, December 9.

In the end, no one is completely sure what all the legislature passed. We’ll be deciphering what happened in lame duck in the coming weeks, and looking toward the 132nd General Assembly to correct any “mistakes” that were made. Of note though, the General Assembly passed an education reform bill that had been sitting since January of 2015, passed a watered-down Unemployment Compensation Reform bill, made changes to how property evaluations are done on commercial property developments, made changes to Ohio’s home foreclosure process, made changes to Ohio’s Concealed Carry Weapon Law, and changes to Professional Engineers Continuing Education to include ethics training, and a host of other issues. We are also pleased to report that HB 214, the so-called Plastic Pipe bill, was prevented once again from receiving a committee vote. This was the 3rd General Assembly we’ve been able to stop this measure, in concert with other like-minded groups. However, we’re sure the sponsor will introduce it again in 2017.

The 132nd General Assembly will convene on January 2, 2017 for their official swearing in ceremonies, then spend the next couple of weeks organizing as committee chairs and members are named, and the committees hold their organizational meetings. All eyes will be focused on January 31, when the Governor has announced he plans to introduce his FY2018-2019 biennial budget, his last as Governor. Part of this focus is due to the Governor’s recent statements from the dais in Senate & House chambers, something unprecedented in recent memory, that Ohio is “headed for a recession,” and therefore he will be proposing a very austere budget. Obviously, our eyes will be on the revenue side of his proposed budget to see if he once again proposes his expansion of the state sales tax to “services,” including engineering services, as he has done in the three prior biennial budgets.

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

~Kevin


Kevin Futryk, Government Advantage Group

 


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