Week in Review
Friday, June 17, 2016
Lawmakers who championed 9-1-1 “Good Samaritan” legislation for preventing overdose deaths cheered its enactment into law Monday, alongside Ohioans who’ve seen the toll of overdoses firsthand. Under the new law, proposed in HB249 (Sprague-Driehaus) and enacted as an amendment to HB110 (Hill), people who are overdosing or with another person who is overdosing can call authorities for help without fear of prosecution for minor drug possession. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill Monday morning, meaning it will go into effect in 90 days.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) observed Wednesday, June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Ohio. Both agencies encouraged Ohioans to learn the signs of elder abuse and to know what to do if there is suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation.
In recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Wednesday announced a $738,000 grant to support a statewide project of Pro Seniors and Ohio’s legal aids to provide free legal assistance to older Ohioans. The funding will support a telephone-based legal hotline and direct civil legal guidance and assistance to Ohioans age 60 and older.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced its approval for local sponsors to purchase agricultural easements on 62 family farms representing 7,919 acres in 31 counties. Local sponsoring organizations — which include land trusts, counties and local soil and water conservation districts — receive funding from the Clean Ohio Fund to manage the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP).
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a $67 million settlement with Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceuticals LLC Wednesday to resolve false claim allegations by the federal government and a number of states including Ohio. DeWine said the companies allegedly made misleading, off-label representations to physicians and other health care providers about the effectiveness of the drug Tarceva in treating non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in current and former smokers.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said Ohio has joined with other states and the federal government to settle allegations that Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc. paid kickbacks to improperly promote various drugs and medical devices. The agreement will result in a combined state and federal settlement amount of $1,394,595 for Ohio.
The Ohio Attorney General’s (AG) Office wants to help Ohioans avoid charity scams in seeking to provide monetary support to survivors and families affected by the Orlando mass shooting.
The Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice (BHJJ) initiative has made a “major impact” on the state’s youth and deserves more funding, Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) Director Harvey Reed told lawmakers Wednesday during the meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth.
The state prisons agency and its employee union squared off Thursday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in a dispute over the Kasich administration’s moves to shut down and sell off farming operations at correctional institutions. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), which represents most state employees, including those at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, wants Judge Michael Holbrook to order a freeze on further sale and decommissioning of farm holdings pending the outcome of arbitration under the union contract. The state says the dispute hasn’t tripped the necessary triggers to take the matter to arbitration since no layoffs are planned, and moreover argues that the county court should dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.
The state of Ohio is poised to become a national model for reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in jail, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton said Thursday at the program’s launch. Ohio is one of the first three states selected by Stepping Up, a national initiative sponsored by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. The other two states are California and Texas, said Stratton, who serves as project director for the initiative in Ohio.
JobsOhio rolled out what President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor described Tuesday as the final piece of the nonprofit agency’s economic development strategy. Minor and senior staff told the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board that JobsOhio is launching a new “talent acquisition” program to ensure its expansion and relocation projects have the trained and educated workforce they need.
Highland Local School District, which spans Morrow, Knox and Delaware counties, Friday sued federal education officials over issues of gender identity and access to sex-specific facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms. It is challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) interpretation of Title IX in regard to gender identity and discrimination. The federal department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating the district after the guardian of a student who was born male but identifies as female submitted a complaint.
The Ohio Department of Education said Friday that more than 100 mentoring partnerships will receive funding in the latest round of funding from the Community Connectors programs. Following a meeting of the program’s advisory board to make funding recommendations, the department announced $9.4 million will go to 108 proposals estimated to affect about 40,000 students.
Krish Mohip, an administrator with Chicago public schools in Illinois, has been hired as the CEO of the Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission, Mahoning Valley media sources reported. He starts on the job Wednesday, June 29.
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) announced the election of Franki Sibberson, a Dublin woman, as its vice president. She will take office as vice president in November at NCTE’s annual convention in Atlanta. She will then become president-elect in 2017 and president in 2018 at the annual convention in Houston.
A State Board of Education committee voted Monday to lower cut scores on two math assessments after seeing that student performance was substantially lower than expected. The full board adopted the change Tuesday. Board committees also reviewed processes for schools to implement the community learning center model under HB70 (Brenner-Driehaus) and heard about the possibility of a lottery for enrollment in the EdChoice expansion program for low-income families.
Senior Policy Advisory Colleen Grady reported that the department’s initial outreach to organizations regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is winding down, with planning now underway for webinars and surveys that will roll out later this summer. In addition, a series of nine regional meetings are being planned for September in conjunction with Philanthropy Ohio.
Chris Woolard, senior executive director of accountability, discussed the first release of draft ESSA rules from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), which he said focus on assessments, accountability and school improvement. Comments are due Monday, Aug. 1.
Requiring credit in world languages emerged as a sticking point Tuesday in State Board of Education discussions about expanding the types of honors diplomas students can earn, particularly in career-technical education.
The Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) voted unanimously Wednesday to hire Lauren Monowar-Jones as its first executive director. She is assistant director of curriculum and assessment in the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education and has four advanced degrees in math and science disciplines, including a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Florida.
As state and local leaders in Ohio and elsewhere look to increase access to early childhood education, the federal government released a report this week showing relatively low-pay for teachers in the field to be a hindrance to expansion. The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report showed a national median annual wage of $28,570 for preschool teachers, compared to more than $50,000 for kindergarten and early elementary teachers.
Teenagers should not start school until 8:30 a.m. or later to encourage healthy sleep habits and avoid consequences of sleep deprivation, the American Medical Association said this week. The national group adopted a new policy at its annual meeting calling for middle and high schools to set start times no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and urging doctors to provide the public information on the importance of sleep to adolescents for their mental and physical health. According to the group, about 10 percent of U.S. high schools begin at 7:30 a.m. or earlier.
Around 2 million unregistered but eligible voters in Ohio could be receiving letters from the secretary of state’s office encouraging them to register before the election, Secretary of State Jon Husted said at a Tuesday news conference while announcing a new partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts and its Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson stayed his order to restore “Golden Week,” the overlap period between the end of voter registration and the beginning of early voting that allowed some voters to register and cast an absentee ballot at the same time, but only for the upcoming special election on Aug. 2 and not for the Nov. 8 general election. Watson ruled last month that 130-SB238 (LaRose), which eliminated “Golden Week,” was unconstitutional and violated federal law because it disproportionately affects African American voters who are more likely to cast a ballot during that week.
House Democrats have filled one vacancy on the ballot after a candidate withdrew, are close to naming another, and are working on replacements in four other races before the August deadline. Political parties have until Aug. 15, 2016 to name replacement candidates to fill vacancies on the ballot.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) said Tuesday it was filing a lawsuit in federal court seeking changes to regulations put in place by the city of Cleveland for the Republican National Convention that the group said will violate free speech.
The race for the 16th Senate District, currently held by term-limited Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus), is expected to receive a new Democratic challenger for the November election. The Franklin County Democratic Party will vote next week to replace Larry Malone Jr., current Democratic candidate for the 16th Senate District from Hilliard, with Cathy Johnson, board of education president for South-Western City School District. Johnson would face Rep. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) for the seat.
Gov. John Kasich’s signing of mid-biennium review (MBR) legislation addressing lead contamination put local water systems on the clock to find lead and copper in their structures. HB512 (Ginter) not only requires water systems to notify homeowners and the public more quickly when testing for contamination from the elements but also requires — not later than six months after the effective date of the bill — community water systems to identify and map areas of the system that are known or are likely to contain lead service lines.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) said Tuesday it is providing $200,000 for county farm bureau-led projects that help improve water quality in local communities.
A five-member team of students from LaBrae High School in Leavittsburg outscored 19 other teams at the 2016 Ohio Envirothon competition, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODAg) announced Wednesday. The competition, sponsored by ODAg and the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, was held June 13-14 at Bowling Green State University, the department said.
Ohio has joined 20 other states in a lawsuit against Delaware to recover $200 million in unclaimed MoneyGram checks sold in other parts of the country but held by that state’s government. In an original action filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, plaintiff states allege that Delaware has wrongfully taken title to money designated to other states under the federal Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act. MoneyGram, a money transfer services company operating in all 50 states and internationally, is incorporated in Delaware.
Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R) Tuesday characterized the attack over the week in Orlando as both a terrorist attack and a hate crime. Calling the perpetrator a “home grown terrorist,” Portman went on to say that he sees no reason that anyone who is on the terrorist watch list should be able to purchase guns.
Key gaming employees seeking a renewal license will have to get their applications into the Ohio Casino Control Commission earlier than before, under changes to rules as they go through their five-year review process at the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The change was one of 25 approved by the commission during its meeting Wednesday. Currently, license renewal applications must be submitted to the commission 90 days before they are due to expire. Under the new rule, that will be pushed up to 120 days.
Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) will be resigning from the Ohio House to become president of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG), House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) announced Thursday. Brown, who is in his second term, chairs the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. He also is vice chair of the joint Sunset Review Committee.
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) announced Thursday that, in a continued effort to augment security at the Ohio Statehouse, security turnstiles will begin to be utilized at the three public Statehouse entrances on Tuesday, July 5. The turnstiles are for those individuals with Ohio Statehouse ID cards. Visitors without Ohio Statehouse ID cards will continue to enter the Ohio Capitol through metal detectors located at those same three public entrances.
Gov. John Kasich signed the following bills on Monday:
- SB63 (LaRose) creates an online voter registration system, requires the secretary of state annually to review the Statewide Voter Registration Database to identify registrants who are not United States citizens, modifies the procedures for maintaining the Statewide Voter Registration Database, amends the requirements for the certification of voting equipment, and clarifies the circumstances under which a political party may appoint a person to fill a vacancy in certain elective offices.
- SB129 (Gardner-Cafaro) amends the law related to the prior authorization requirements of insurers and delays the effective date of certain laws regarding community mental health and addiction services.
- SB204 (Seitz) makes the suspension of an offender’s driver’s license for a violation of specified drug offenses discretionary rather than mandatory, except in specified circumstances; authorizes a court to terminate a driver’s license suspension imposed for specified drug offenses committed out-of-state; generally authorizes a court to terminate a previously imposed mandatory suspension for specified drug offenses; provides for the suspension of an offender’s driver’s license for possessing nitrous oxide in a motor vehicle; and makes consistent the provisions of law governing the ability of a court to grant limited driving privileges.
- SB213 (Jordan-Tavares) makes changes to the Cosmetology Licensing Law.
- HB50 (Pelanda-Grossman) extends the age for which a person is eligible for federal foster care and adoption assistance payments under Title IV-E to age 21; requires that a guardian receive the Ohio Guardianship Guide; and conforms to recent amendments to federal Title IV-E program requirements.
- HB60 (Patmon-Hall) revises provisions and penalties regarding treatment of companion animals, revises the definition of “companion animal” in the Offenses Relating to Domestic Animals Law, provides a state collaborative effort to assist veterinarians in identifying clients who may use their animals to secure opioids for abuse, and modifies the penalty for assaulting a police dog or horse to require, if the dog or horse is killed, a mandatory prison term and a mandatory fine to be paid to the law enforcement agency served by the dog or horse.
- HB110 (Hill) increases the penalty for failure to stop after a traffic accident that results in the death of a person or serious physical harm to a person; names those penalty changes Brandon’s Law; requires emergency medical service personnel to report the administration of naloxone on request of a law enforcement agency in specified circumstances; provides immunity from arrest, prosecution, or conviction, or to permit a court to consider drug treatment or as a mitigating factor in supervised release sanctioning, for a minor drug possession offense for a person who seeks or obtains medical assistance for self or another person who is experiencing a drug overdose or for a person who is experiencing such an overdose and for whom medical assistance is sought; requires training of certain 911 operators regarding the immunity; and requires those 911 operators who receive a call about an apparent drug overdose to make reasonable efforts, upon the caller’s inquiry, to inform the caller about the immunity.
- HB182 (Schuring) revises the law governing the creation and operation of joint economic development districts (JEDDs) and enterprise zones; exempts from property taxation real property owned by a nonprofit organization selected by the Federal Small Business Administration as an intermediary lender in the Federal Microloan Program; lowers the contribution threshold necessary to maintain an income tax refund contribution “check-off” option; extends the deadline for municipal corporations to report information to enable a computation of fiscal effects of recent changes to net operating loss deductions for municipal income tax purposes; and modifies eligible investment criteria for the state New Markets Tax Credit.
In addition to signing SB293 (Balderson) on Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich also signed 14 other bills into law:
- HB5 (Kunze-Koehler) allows the auditor of state to conduct feasibility studies regarding the efficiency of local public offices and state agencies, authorizes the auditor of state to establish a shared equipment service agreement program among state agencies and political subdivisions, and specifies that a state agency or political subdivision that uses the loaned equipment may assume potential liability for its use.
- HB113 (Grossman-Manning) requires public schools to provide students with instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator; requires training for certain school employees in the use of an automated external defibrillator; revises the law regarding the Joint Education Oversight Committee; high school equivalency tests and the awarding of certificates of high school equivalence; and makes other revisions regarding the operation of primary and secondary schools.
- HB123 (Johnson G.-Cupp) changes the time for notification of an alibi defense in a criminal case; allows the court in a felony case to impose community control sanctions without a presentence investigation report upon agreement of the defendant and the prosecutor; and requests the Supreme Court to modify Criminal Rule 32.2 to allow the court in a felony case to impose community control sanctions without a presentence investigation report upon agreement of the defendant and the prosecutor.
- HB164 (Pelanda-Rogers) allows a person who is convicted of an offense that may not be sealed to apply to have the conviction sealed if, before the person makes that application, the offense is changed so that it may be sealed and specifies that investigation reports the inspector general maintains are not official records sealable under the Not Guilty/Dismissed Charges/No Bill Record Sealing Law.
- HB171 (Blessing-Dever) decreases the minimum amount of heroin involved in a violation of trafficking in heroin or possession of heroin that makes the violation a felony of the first degree and that is necessary to classify an offender as a major drug offender.
- HB178 (Manning) establishes the F-10 liquor permit to authorize the sale of wine by certain wine manufacturers at specified farmers markets.
- HB229 (Hambley-Bishoff) creates the Ohio Family Trust Company Act.
- HB429 (Antani-Reineke) allows employers of automotive technicians and motor vehicle technicians to participate in the Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program; revises what constitutes treatment of hazardous waste; defines and regulates autocycles for purposes of the Motor Vehicles Law; and amends sections of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, to continue the provisions of this act on and after that effective date.
- SB97 (Hughes-LaRose) increases by 50 percent the mandatory prison term for an offender who is convicted of a firearm specification and previously has been convicted of a firearm specification; prohibits violent career criminals from knowingly acquiring, having, carrying, or using any firearm or dangerous ordnance; requires a mandatory prison term for a violent career criminal convicted of committing a violent felony offense while armed with a firearm; corrects a provision regarding delinquent child dispositions for specifications; provides certain prisoners credit for time spent in jail in determining eligibility to apply for judicial release; and specifies that no presentence investigation report is required for shock probation to be granted to an offender convicted of an offense before July 1, 1996.
- SB123 (Hughes) allows emergency personnel in public safety vehicles to report certain traffic law violations under certain circumstances.
- SB159 (Hughes) amends the law governing motor vehicle license plate county identification stickers; creates various license plates; changes the name of the Port Columbus International Airport to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport; and designates a portion of State Route 2 in Cuyahoga County as the “Gov. Richard F. Celeste Shoreway.”
- SB171 (Seitz) enacts the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act.
- SB172 (Jordan) exempts from sales and use taxes the sale or use of investment metal bullion and coins; expands eligibility for the fraternal organization property tax exemption to property of an organization operating under a state governing body that has been operating in Ohio for at least 85 years; extends the deadline for payments of quarterly municipal income tax withholding taxes; and modifies the rules for when municipal income tax withholding payments are considered to have been made.
- SB242 (Uecker-Coley) revises the law governing new motor vehicle franchise agreements.
The governor appointed Scot A. Stevenson of Barberton (Summit County) to serve as a judge on the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. Stevenson assumed office on Wednesday, June 15 and must run in November 2017 to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends April 30, 2021. Stevenson replaced Judge Tom Parker, who resigned.
The governor made the following appointments during the week:
- William R. Creedon of Upper Arlington (Franklin County) to the Ohio Public Defender Commission for a term beginning June 9, 2016 and ending Jan. 12, 2020.
- Jeffrey T. Ferriell of Columbus (Franklin County) and Larry T. Garvin of Bexley (Franklin County) reappointed to the State Council of Uniform State Laws for terms beginning June 10, 2016 and ending June 5, 2019.
- Christopher R. Powell of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) to the Transportation Review Advisory Council for a term beginning June 15, 2016 and ending June 29, 2018.
- Carly D. Evans of Kent (Summit County) as student member on the Kent State University Board of Trustees for a term beginning June 16, 2016 and ending May 16, 2018.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
The Ohio Office of Health Transformation (OHT) together with the departments of Medicaid and mental health and addiction services (OhioMHAS) Wednesday announced the next step in the redesign of the state’s behavioral health system with the release of the new Medicaid billing codes and prices for behavioral health services. According to OHT, these new codes are estimated to generate an additional $38 million annually in payments to behavioral health providers.
Leaders and clinical experts from Ohio hospitals gathered Wednesday for the Ohio Hospital Association’s (OHA) annual summit on quality care issues. The meeting featured a number of continuing education sessions, presentations from industry experts, opportunities to network with peers and a showcase of best practices from around the state. The Ohio Patient Safety Institute presented Dayton Children’s Hospital with the 7th Annual Dr. Frank Dono Best Practice Award for the hospital’s quality improvement project that reduced methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) Thursday heard an update on value-based payments both across the health care system and from providers’ perspectives. This was in part prompted by a provision in the FY16-17 budget (HB64) which requires that 50 percent of Medicaid managed care organizations’ payments to providers be value-based by 2020. “Value payment” is seen as a way to reduce waste and to move away from the “fee for service” payment model that has long been followed in health care and which many see as fueling the high cost and poor outcomes of the health care system.
University of Cincinnati (UC) President Santa Ono will be leaving his position in July to take the same position with the University of British Columbia (UBC), both schools announced Monday. Ono has been president of UC for six years. He will become the 15th president and vice chancellor of UBC.
The Cincinnati State Board of Trustees removed the interim tag and named Dr. Monica J. Posey the community college’s sixth president. According to the school, Posey is the first president to be hired from within the organization since it expanded and became a community and technical college in 1994, and is the first internal hire since the school’s first president. She is also the first African-American female president of a major educational institution in the Cincinnati area.
Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) Director and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor appointed Allison Conklin as assistant director of legislative affairs for the department and Amanda Baird is its new general counsel.
The grand jury task force created by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor approved nine recommendations for final submission Friday but held up two proposals following pointed debate, including a recommendation to loosen secrecy restrictions for the “limited release” of grand jury records. The Task Force to Examine Improvements to the Ohio Grand Jury System was scheduled for a final vote on all recommendations for submission to the chief, but after an hour of spirited discussion on grand jury secrecy, O’Connor sent word that she would give the panel a 30-day extension on a final report to be filed by Sunday, July 10.
The Board of Professional Conduct approved a pair of advisory opinions at its recent meeting. One addresses considerations that a lawyer must weigh before participating in an online lawyer referral service. The second opinion provides guidance to law student interns and their employers in evaluating and addressing potential conflicts of interest.
Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday signed SB293 (Balderson), mid-biennium review (MBR) legislation merging the Division of Parks and Recreation and Division of Watercraft within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and renaming park, watercraft, preserve and forestry officers as “natural resources officers.”
A lawsuit over property boundaries between property owners along Lake Erie and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has been settled, according to a group representing the property owners.
The funeral for former Ohio governor George Voinovich was held on Friday, June 17 in Cleveland following his death Sunday, June 12. Voinovich, who was 79, also served as mayor of Cleveland and as a U.S. Senator from Ohio.
Chris and Mike Schrimpf, who both served as spokesmen in Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign, announced they have formed a new public affairs and communications consulting firm, Red Tack Strategy, with offices in Chicago and Columbus.
Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) hired Devin Scribner as its new executive director. Scribner joins the group after having worked for Rep. Ron Young (R-Leroy), Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
ORTL also said that Jessica Koehler will serve as director of legislative affairs. She takes over for Kayla Atchison, who took a position with the Barberton Municipal Court in Northeast Ohio at the end of May. Koehler previously worked as an aide for Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) and ran the campaign of her father, Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield).
President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued the following statement on the passing of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich: “Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of former Sen. George Voinovich. As was clear from his 46 years in public service, George was a true patriot who dedicated his life to serving the people of Ohio. His dedication is underscored by the fact that he holds the record for being elected to more public offices than any other Ohioan in history. George leaves behind a powerful legacy of service to his state and country that will not soon be forgotten. Michelle and I offer his wife, Janet, and their children and grandchildren our condolences during this difficult time.”
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) observes National Safety Month (NSM) during June 2016 by identifying emerging poison hazards the public is currently facing, as well as addressing how to properly prevent and treat poisonous exposures. “Poisoning continues to be the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of car accidents and gun-related fatalities,” said Stephen Kaminski, AAPCC CEO and executive director.
Participants at the attorney general’s high-speed pursuit task force Wednesday weighed the pros and cons of police chases that can threaten innocent bystanders but also result in the apprehension of dangerous criminals. In its third meeting, the AG’s Working Group on Law Enforcement Vehicular Pursuits got hands-on exposure to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy’s (OPOTA) high-speed simulator, which demonstrated that officer decision-making in initiating and conducting pursuits may warrant careful review.
More experience at fighting tax fraud and better targeting of suspicious income tax returns made for a safer and smoother filing season for Ohio taxpayers this year, the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) said. “About one million fewer taxpayers were directed to take the Identity Confirmation Quiz to verify the legitimacy of their tax return before a refund would be issued,” the department said. “Last year, nearly 1.7 million taxpayers were asked to take the ID Quiz; this season that number was reduced by nearly two-thirds, to about 665,000 taxpayers.”
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Ohio tax commissioner abused his discretion when he refused to refund a penalty to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) and his wife, Tina, who had delayed paying income tax earned by a trust because they relied on a legal interpretation that imposed the tax on the trust. The Supreme Court directed the tax commissioner to refund a $359,822 penalty plus post-assessment interest.
TREASURER OF STATE
Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Monday that his office will make STABLE Accounts available to any eligible person in the U.S. Ohio was the first state in the country to launch the savings accounts for the disabled under federal law. Created by the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and authorized in Ohio by HB155 (Dever-Conditt), state STABLE Accounts allow persons with disabilities to save and invest money tax-free without surrendering eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security and other means-tested programs.
The PUCO Nominating Council submitted four names to Gov. John Kasich for consideration as appointees to the vacant seat of former PUCO Chairman Andre Porter: Sam Gerhardstein of Marysville, recently retired director of government affairs, Columbia Gas of Ohio, and spouse of Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville); Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), former chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; Howard Petricoff of Columbus, a two-time applicant and former partner and energy counsel at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease; and Gregory Williams of Westerville, deputy director and state equal employment opportunity coordinator at the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS).
The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter Wednesday to Columbus City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer expressing concern over a proposed city ordinance to create buffer zones around facilities that provide reproductive health services. These would prohibit demonstrators from coming within a certain distance of clinics and other health care facilities, which the ACLU contends places undue burden on free speech.
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