Legislative Update

State Senator Matt Dolan Newsletter
Volume 3

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In “From the Desk of Matt Dolan”, I discussed with some detail, the state operating budget that was recently signed into law. However, I also voted on several pieces of legislation since the last newsletter. Below is the summary of all the legislation I voted on up to September 15. I voted YES on all of these bills:


Education

SB 8 creates the 1:1 School Facilities Option Program. This program will provide state assistance to school districts for facilities, security, or technology upgrades without requiring their participation in the full Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP). The dollars received through this program could be used by school districts to renovate classrooms, improve school security, or upgrade existing technology.

The bill passed off the House floor in July and has been returned to the Senate. I expect the Senate to consider the House version of this bill in the near future.


Energy and Natural Resources

SB 2 takes steps to ensure clean drinking water, aids the state’s continued initiative toward eliminating toxic algae and other toxins in Lake Erie and other watersheds through the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Strategy, and reduces potential risks from construction and landfill debris while also encouraging beneficial uses of potentially helpful materials from dredging and slag.

These improvements to Ohio’s environmental safety and human health and safety programs will materially benefit communities across the state.

I am happy to be able to say that this bill has now become law.


Workforce Development

SB 3 enacts a number of improvements to Ohio’s workforce development system that make the state’s education system more responsive to students, parents and employers by providing the skills that employers seek in Ohio’s 21st century workforce.

Ohio currently faces a significant gap in the number of Ohioans who are expected to hold a post-secondary degrees or credentials (43.2% in 2015) vs. the projected need for individuals to have at least this level of training to enter the workforce by 2025 (64%). This means that in order to meet the needs of employers, Ohio needs to produce an estimated 1.7 million more adults with post-secondary certificates or degrees by 2025. Meeting this need is the intent behind Ohio’s 2025 Attainment Goal, a statewide educational attainment initiative adopted last year by the Kasich administration.

Developing proactive, in-demand education and training programs will help prepare young Ohioans for success in Ohio’s current and future workforce, as well as develop, broaden and strengthen the ties between businesses and educational institutions.

SB 3 is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Higher Education and Workforce Development committee.


Public Safety and Criminal Justice

SB 1 makes it a crime to traffic in a fentanyl-related compound. Fentanyl is an opiate that is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. It has been linked to hundreds of overdose deaths throughout Ohio and is now being mixed with heroin, which makes the compound even more lethal. Even trace amounts of fentanyl can kill an individual.

If signed into law, selling fentanyl near schools or to minors will be a first-degree felony. Offenders convicted of that charge will also be labeled major drug offenders.

Importantly, the focus of SB1 is on improving public safety by placing drug dealers in prison, and away from Ohio’s communities.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice committee.

SB 4 grants victims of human trafficking a fresh start as they attempt to reclaim their lives.

All too often, victims of human trafficking are forced to engage in a life of crime and drug abuse while being coerced into selling their bodies for money. The bill establishes a procedure to expunge all felony convictions except crimes of murder, aggravated murder, or rape.

Individuals able to escape the abusive and cruel world of forced prostitution should not be responsible for crimes they committed while under duress or coercion. Unfortunately, many women have difficulty finding safe housing or employment because their background checks are littered with drug, prostitution, and burglary charges.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice committee.

SB 20 creates Destiny’s Law, which requires an additional mandatory prison term of 3 to 8 years for individuals convicted of felonious assault on a child under 13, or child endangerment, when the victim is left with substantially impaired intellectual or physical injuries that prohibit the child from engaging in the ordinary demands of life. The bill is named for a young child from Ohio who suffered permanent brain damage at the hands of her abuser.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice committee.

SB 32 maintains a defendant’s rights to a fair and speedy trial while assuring that felony charges are not dismissed, and defendants are not released into local communities, based on inadvertently missed speedy trial dates.

A defendant facing felony charges is guaranteed a trial within 270 days of arrest. Many defendants waive this right so that the accused may gather witnesses, seek legal counsel, and prepare an effective defense. However, time spent in jail counts as 3 days and time spent outside jail counts as one day. As a result of this time-keeping system, prosecutors are often unable to keep track of defendants who are in and out of jail on separate charges. Such a calculation error may enable a defendant to escape prosecution and be released back into the community.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice committee.

SB 33 makes it clear that a defendant has a right to see a copy of his or her criminal record during a traffic or criminal case. The Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure provide that a defendant has a right to know his or her criminal record. Privacy laws, however, conflicted with Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) law so SB 33 is necessary to ensure prosecutors can legally disclose this information.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice committee.

SB 7 came about as a result of the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling in State v Smith. In that particular case, the court ruled that a violent offender who had knowledge of a protection order, but had not formerly been served the order, could not be convicted of violating the order. In other words, even though the violent offender had knowledge of protection order during a violent assault, the fact that he had not been formerly served the order prevented his conviction.

SB 7 is the Senate’s response to that ruling. The bill establishes that service of a protection order or consent agreement upon a person is not necessary for the person to be convicted of the offense of violating that order if the person has had actual notice of the order and the person recklessly violated its terms.

Governor Kasich has signed this bill into law.


Government

SB 10 will save taxpayers’ dollars by eliminating uncontested primary elections from appearing on the ballot. The bill automatically gives the nomination to the sole individual running.

The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the House, where it has been assigned to the Government Accountability and Oversight committee.

SB 44 brings greater transparency and accountability to local elections by permitting candidates not currently required to file campaign finance statements electronically to do so.

The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the House, where it has been assigned to the Government Accountability and Oversight committee.

SB 88 revises the fiscal emergency procedures for local governments (municipalities, townships and counties) to ensure financial planning and supervisory commissions are properly empowered to restore fiscal stability.

The bill’s provisions were recommended by the Ohio Auditor of State.

SB 88 is currently awaiting a hearing in the House, where it has been assigned to the Government Accountability and Oversight committee.

SB 37 requires the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) to develop and conduct a 40-hour training course for newly appointed chiefs of police. This creates an opportunity for local police chiefs to receive appropriate training that will better equip them to be effective and dynamic leaders within their community.

The bill is currently awaiting further hearing in the House, where it passed out of the State and Local Government committee.

SB 6 creates the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program (BPP). The Bridge Partnership Program is a partnership between the state and local governments and entities to fully fund the replacement or repair of locally-owned bridges. Using federal funds with no required local match, the BPP has funded the repair and replacement of over 200 structurally deficient county and local bridges since 2014.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Transportation and Public Safety committee.


Commemorations and Designations

SB 62 designates July 8 as “Harrison Dillard Day.” Dillard is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and Army veteran. A native of Cleveland, Mr. Dillard is still the only male runner to win gold in both sprinting and hurdling events, accomplishing both in the 1952 Summer Olympic in Helsinki. Dillard has previously won gold medals for sprinting in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the House, where it has been assigned to the State and Local Government committee.

SB 18 designates Jesse Owens Day to commemorate the accomplishments of the Ohio Olympic track & field athlete. The date of September 12th was chosen to coincide with Mr. Owens’s birthday.

The bill is currently over in the Ohio House, where it passed out of the State and Local Government committee.

SB 23 designates January 31st as “Omphalocele Awareness Day.” An omphalocele is an abdominal wall defect that occurs when an infant’s intestines, liver, and occasionally other organs grow outside of the body and push through into the navel. The organs are covered in a thin, nearly transparent sac and almost always require surgery to correct. SB 23 is intended to bring public awareness, support and education to this very serious diagnosis

This bill has now become law.

SB 27 designates the period beginning March 13th and ending April 15th as “Ohio Deaf History Month.” Designating this time period helps to promote equality, while empowering deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens through public awareness and community resources.

The bill is currently over in the Ohio House, where it passed out of the State and Local Government committee.

SB 57 designates May 17 as “Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma Awareness Day.” Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a tumor of the brainstem that occurs almost exclusively in children. DIPG is one of the most resistant of all cancers to chemotherapy treatments and is the second most common malignant brain tumor found in children. It is the leading cause of childhood death due to brain tumors, impacting between 200-400 children each year in the U.S.

The bill is currently over in the Ohio House, where it passed out of the Health committee.

HB 84 designates June as Ohio Goes Boating Month.

This bill is now law.


Miscellaneous

SB 9 reestablished a three-day sales tax “holiday” on August 4, 5, and 6 of 2017. Sales of clothing, school supplies, and school instructional materials.

The sales tax holiday applies to clothing costing $75 or less per item (not including accessories or sports equipment), and school supplies and instructional materials costing less than $20 per item

This bill has now become law.

SB 36 changes the state’s policy for valuing agricultural land for property tax purposes, known as current agricultural use valuation or CAUV.

Farmland taxes have been increasing at substantial rates for the last several years. According to estimates provided by LSC, farmland property taxpayers paid $370 million more in taxes in 2014 than they did in 2008, an increase of 307%. SB 36 ensures that the taxes paid by farmers are more closely tied to the income producing potential of the land.

It removes two factors from the CAUV formula, land value appreciation and equity buildup, both of which arbitrarily inflate the value of farmland based on market considerations.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Ways and Means committee.

Together, SB 22 and HB11 conform to federal tax law changes that were signed into law in 2016. These modifications update Ohio tax law to reflect federal tax benefits that are used in the calculation of Federal Adjusted Gross Income (FAGI).

The bill will permit Ohioans to receive all of the benefits allowed by the IRS and avoid additional complexity when filing their taxes.

HB 11 and SB 22 are companion bills. A technical amendment and emergency clause were added to HB 11 by the Senate prior to passage.

This language has now become law.

SB 24 creates the Consumer Installment Loan Act (CILA) to help consumers, regulators, and industry participants determine which types of loans should be made under a specific, new section of code. The bill does not impact the Ohio Mortgage Loan Act (OMLA).

Since the early 1960’s consumer installment loans lenders have operated in Ohio under the OMLA. The OMLA permits licensees to issue several different types of loans including personal loans, retail installment loans, and auto loans just to name a few. In 2008, the short-term lending law expanded the types of loans that fell under the OMLA.

This bill also modifies record retention requirements to reflect the ability to use electronic record keeping, and requires licensees to comply with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.

This bill has now become law.

SB 29 updates Ohio’s banking laws for the first time since the 1980’s. It enacts a new “universal” banking law that regulates banks, savings and loan associations, and savings banks under the same statute. It also eliminates unnecessary regulatory duplication and burdens on Ohio banking organizations, and streamlines regulatory governing boards.

This modernization ensures Ohio law reflects the dramatic changes that have occurred in the banking industry over the past thirty years, most notably electronic banking.

The bill is currently in the House, where it has been assigned to the Financial Institutions, Housing, and Urban Development committee.

HB 9 allows bicyclists whose bikes were not detected by a traffic signal to proceed through that intersection, so long as the bicyclist clearly follows all right-of-way requirements and exercises ordinary care when proceeding through the intersection. This exception does not apply to motor vehicles.

This bill has now become law.

SB 25 has been signed into law, creating the Perry County Municipal Court, which will sit in New Lexington, Ohio.