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Controlling Board to Hear $100 Million School Projects Request

An Ohio commission will ask the Controlling Board on Monday for release of $100 million from lottery profits to finance more than 30 school district projects.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission (SFC) is asking for approval of $100 million from a larger $350 million sum approved in a mid-biennium review (MBR) bill and the previous capital budget. Bills 130-HB497 (Amstutz) and 130-HB492 (Scherer) provide for the commission to receive the money for the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program through the Lottery Profits Education Fund.

The commission is seeking release of the $100 million that will come partially from video lottery terminal licensing fees from the Ohio Lottery, according to the request. The requested amount “will be used to provide the state share of basic project costs” to school districts approved by the SFC.

A district’s relative wealth “as measured through its three-year average adjusted valuation per pupil and the need to replace classroom facilities as assessed by SFC” are the determinants for its eligibility and priority in the program. The appropriation would fund 38 school districts.

Strips Most Kasich Tax Proposals from Budget Bill

House Approves 6.3% Income Tax Cut

After weeks of studying the sweeping proposals from Gov. John Kasich in his executive budget for FY16-17, House Republicans unveiled their version Tuesday that largely strips out the proposed sales tax expansion to consultants and others as well as the severance, tobacco and CAT taxes and dedicates more money to school districts so that fewer will lose funds in the next biennium.

The House proposal will give a 6.3 percent across-the-board income tax cut beginning in Tax Year 2015 worth $1.2 billion over the biennium, which will lower the top tax rate to 4.997 percent. The substitute bill will also make the 75 percent small business tax deduction that was adopted by the 130th General Assembly permanent.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) says he believes in the direction Kasich is trying to take the state long term, but said he wanted to give businesses tax certainty and get everyone on the same page as they move along the path that Kasich has laid out in his executive budget.

 

 To that end, the substitute bill includes the creation of the 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission, which will examine the state’s tax policies in comparison to other states. Rosenberger said it will include members of the House and Senate as well as the tax commissioner and budget director to look at tax policies and make recommendations. Among the items that will be studied by the commission will be an increase in the severance tax, something Kasich has pushed for but which has been resisted by lawmakers and the oil and gas industry, who have argued for a much lower tax than proposed by the governor.

 

 

Ohio Marks 200 Schools with LEED Certification

Ohio's school construction program has reached the 200 mark for facilities earning certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) said Wednesday that Violet Elementary in Pickerington schools is the 200th such facility.

According to the commission, Ohio's certified schools are on average 33 percent more efficient in energy usage and 37 percent more efficient in water usage. "All of the OSFC projects encourage the use of products and components that are at least partially recycled and are recovered or manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the project," OSFC stated.

In addition to the 200 certified schools, 140 are registered with LEED, meaning they are at some stage of the design, construction or review process, according to the commission. Ohio has required each project design to seek at least a LEED Silver certification since 2007. Three schools in Ohio have attained the highest certification, Platinum, said OSFC.

"These 200 projects, which represent a commitment to both our school children and the future of our environment, are the direct result of innovative team work from architects, construction managers, trade contractors, and our project partners, the local school districts. I commend them for their accomplishments," OSFC Interim Executive Director David Chovan said in a statement.

"On behalf of the entire USGBC community, I commend the state of Ohio for certifying its 200th school under the LEED green building rating system," Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, said in a statement. "This achievement demonstrates determination and commitment to create a healthy, sustainable environment for all of Ohio's children. Schools are the centers of their communities and the positive impact these LEED-certified schools will have on the state and its children will be felt for years to come."

Personal and Business Income Tax Cuts Still in Play: House House Set To Strip Kasich Tax Plan From Budget

Personal and Business Income Tax Cuts Still in PlayHouse Republicans as expected will delete nearly all of Gov. John Kasich's ambitious tax overhaul from the biennial budget when the chamber unveils its first rewrite of the $72.3 billion spending plan.

 

The majority caucus will roll out its substitute version of the bill (HB 64) during a House Finance & Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday. The committee will hold further hearings on the new measure Wednesday-Friday with plans to put the final touches on the bill and send it to the Senate the following week.

 

The House GOP's plans to gut most of the governor's tax package should come as no surprise to Capitol Square observers, as many in the caucus have been vocal about their opposition. Most of the testimony and comments fielded thus far have also been negative, including a resounding thumbs-down from the state's key business groups, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. 

 

And last month several caucus members expressed support for scrapping most of the proposal, which would have cut personal income taxes by about $5.7 billion while raising sales and other taxes to cover some $5.2 billion of that revenue loss.

 

Mr. Kasich has pushed the wide-ranging tax code rewrite as the next step in shifting Ohio's tax base away from income and toward a consumption-based system to better reflect the state's increasingly service-based economy. However, already-leery lawmakers have been witness to a parade of naysayers who questioned whether higher sales taxes and other aspects of the plan would truly propel the state's economy as envisioned by the governor.

 

As big fans of tax cuts, majority Republicans are still pushing for a sizeable reduction based on projections for continued strong revenues and the retention of a few aspects of the governor's package. Sources say the chamber is targeting a $1 billion overall cut.

 

Expected to survive the legislative surgery next week is a reduced version of the tobacco tax increase, people with knowledge of the discussions said. Mr. Kasich's plan to "means test" some tax breaks, which would provide an estimated $318 million in revenue over the biennium for tax cuts, is also expected to remain in the bill.

 

One big selling point for conservatives is the permanent enactment of the formerly temporary 75% personal income tax cut for small businesses, sources said.

 

Gone will be the shake-up of the sales tax, including the proposed broadening to several services and the half-cent increase. The governor's oil and gas severance tax increase, versions of which had previously been rejected twice by his fellow Republicans, is also out as is the Commercial Activity Tax hike.

 

The tax changes along with several other amendments have been signaled by policymakers as the House has worked its way through extensive deliberations over the last several weeks.

 

 

AIA Ohio Testifies For "Good Samaritan Bill"

On March 26 AIA Ohio Immediate Past President, Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA asked members of the Senate Civil Justice Committee to pass HB17 which would provide civil immunity for architects, contractors, engineers, surveyors, and tradespersons providing volunteer services during a declared emergency.

Murphy said that currently architects are not able to volunteer in emergencies due to their status as licensed professionals. They risk losing their license by offering opinions on damaged structures without contractual language in place.

In an emergency, help is needed right away, but creating contracts is not a quick process, she explained. And if there is no contract, the architect will not be covered by insurance and would have to decline to help unless they had immunity, as she hopes will be achieved with the bill.

"Following a large-scale disaster, hundreds or thousands of buildings may be damaged," she said. "Average citizens won't know whether their homes and businesses are safe to enter or occupy." That's why she believes architects are essential during and after a declared emergency.

Sen. Skindell asked how architect volunteers are coordinated with the government in an emergency situation. Murphy said the architect has to be invited by a city, county or state official, as stated in the bill.

 

Representatives of the Associated General Contractors of Ohio, and the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio also provided similar testimony. 

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  • Legislative Issues

    AIA Ohio’s Legislative affairs program provides information and leadership through advocacy and monitoring of legislation and regulations at the state level.  By collaborating with allied professionals, industry representatives, code officials, and state and local representatives, AIA Ohio strives to build strategic alliances to address issues of public health, safety and welfate, design excellence and in advancing the quality of life through the built environment.

    As advocates of innovative approaches to legislation, AIA Ohio advances state regulations that benefit the practice of architecture and promotes good design that positively affects the quality of life of for all citizens of Ohio. Through our efforts, AIA Ohio works to educate the public and legislators on a wide facet of issues relating to architecture including:

    • Qualification Based Selection
    • Historic Preservation
    • Sustainable Design
    • Building Code development and regulation
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    Working through our highly qualified staff and experienced membership, AIA Ohio proposes regulations, positions architects as leaders, and tracks and responds to legislation that benefits both architects and users of the built environment alike. Additionally, through our Political Action Committee, we strive to support legislation, and allies in the legislature, that advances the needs of our members.

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