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AIA Ohio News
BWC Directors Approve Rate Cut
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors gave formal approval Feb. 27 to another rate cut totaling $500 million in private employer savings under the Kasich administration.
Directors voted to approve the 10.8 percent, $153 million estimated rate reduction after an initial hearing last month and a final recommendation from the Actuarial Committee. BWC Administrator/CEO Stephen Buehrer attributed ongoing premium cuts to a several factors including lower-than-expected claim frequency and this year’s adoption of prospective billing, under which the bureau will bill in advance rather than in arrears. The switch will save employers money and free up state investment dollars for BWC.
“The environment for employers operating in Ohio is improving along with the state’s economy, and BWC is certainly part of that story,” Buehrer said. “We’ve targeted improvements that will yield positive improvements to Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, and are conducive to business growth. Lower rates, along with a focus on workplace accident prevention and care for those who are injured, all support the state’s continued economic recovery.”
House Passes Architect's "Good Samaritan" Bill (HB17)
The Ohio House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to advance legislation that provides immunity to architects who might find themselves offering services as they respond to emergency situations.
The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to advance legislation that provides immunity to a number of professionals who might find themselves offering services as they respond to emergency situations.
Al Landis (R-Dover) HB 17 shields architects, contractors, engineers, surveyors, and tradespersons who are working on response efforts during declared emergencies.
The lawmaker said those offering services at a time of crisis shouldn't have to be worried that their efforts could leave them subject a lawsuit. "We want our 'A team' in the game, not on the bench" during times of emergency, he said.
Rep. Bill Blessing (R-Cincinnati), a primary co-sponsor, added that the immunity wouldn't apply in cases of willful or wanton misconduct.
The bill was approved on a 92-0 vote.
Controlling Board Clears Additional Funding For School District Construction Projects
Working off a light agenda Monday, Controlling Board members approved 45 requests, including one that will provide millions of dollars in lottery profits to three school districts.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission was approved for $5.3 million in lottery profit funds for school districts making master facility plan amendments.
Amanda Clearcreek Local School District in Fairfield County is set to receive more than $3.1 million, Arcanum Butler Local School District in Darke County will receive nearly $2 million and East Palestine City School District in Columbiana County will receive $160,000, according to the request.
The project budget of Amanda Clearcreek’s new K-2 and 3-12 facilities is insufficient because of post-construction issues related to shingle roofs, the request stated. In addition to the state share increase of the project, the request would require a local share increase of $561,275.
The additional Arcanum Butler project funding, meanwhile, will cover the costs of masonry repairs and roof repairs at the new K-12 facility and the East Palestine City Schools project requires a funding increase because of an extended design schedule. The districts will be required to chip in an additional $1.1 million and $15,912, respectively.
OFCC Interim Executive Director David Chovan said in the proposal that the state is looking to recover funds from contractors involved with the Amanda Clearcreek project and will initiate litigation in response to the Arcanum Butler project’s roofing issues.
Electro Expo 2015
The Electrical League of Ohio is proud to announce the Electro Expo 2015 - Powering Innovation & Technology will be held on Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12, 2015. The event will be held at the brand new state-of-the-art Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland. Registration & More Information
The Electro Expo attracts over 350 manufacturers displaying the latest technology and services for the electrical, lighting, clean energy and low voltage system industry. The Electro Expo educational conference has over 40 presentations with FREE continuing education for industry license holders. Admission to the trade show and conference is FREE, sponsored by our distributors!
The Electro Expo 2015 will kick off with a cocktail reception on Tuesday, March 10, 6:00 p.m. at Pickwick & Frolic Entertainment Club located on East 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland. The reception includes entertainment, announcements of 2014 Product Achievement Award Winners, hors d'oeuvre stations and plenty of networking! Visit our website at http://www.electroexpo.org/ for information and registration. Hope to see you the Expo!
Tax Reform Plan Subject of Many Concerns in House
As expected with such a comprehensive plan, members of the House Finance Committee peppered Tax Commissioner Joe Testa with their concerns about various aspects of Gov. John Kasich’s tax reform proposal. There are 22 separate tax changes contained in House Bill 64, the proposed 2016-17 state biennial budget. The bill would reduce personal income taxes (PIT) by $5.7 billion and raise sales, commercial activity (CAT) and other taxes by $5.2 billion, resulting in a net two-year tax cut of $523 million.
The PIT reductions would come in the form of a 23 percent across-the-board cut, lowering the top rate to 4.1 percent. In addition, the plan would eliminate the PIT for certain owners of pass-through entities, such as partnerships and S corporations, on their individual share of business profits. Business owners could only qualify if their pass-through business has $2 million or less in gross receipts. HB 64 would also significantly increase the personal exemption for taxpayers with less than $80,000 in taxable income.
However, it was the proposed tax increases in HB 64 that garnered the lion’s share of the House committee’s attention. One committee member questioned why cable TV services should become subject to state sales tax since local jurisdictions already levy a franchise fee that is equivalent to a tax. Several members raised concerns, shared by the Ohio Chamber, that the proposed 23 percent CAT rate increase would make Ohio less competitive, particularly for manufacturing investment and jobs. Such a CAT increase would also negatively affect retailers and other high volume, low margin businesses.
Legislators also expressed concerns about how the proposed severance tax increase on oil and natural gas might adversely affect future production and drilling activity in the Utica Shale play. Others were alarmed about the potential impact on lower-income Ohioans of raising the state sales tax a half-penny from 5.75 to 6.25 percent and substantially raising cigarette and other tobacco taxes.
Finally, an issue that was not specifically discussed by the committee is the proposed extension of the sales tax to “management consulting services”. While legal, accounting and other financial services are not specifically listed in the new services proposed to be taxed, the exceedingly broad definition of “management consulting services” in HB 64 would likely reel in many legal, accounting and other finance- and business planning-related services purchased by businesses.
The tax provisions of HB 64 will now be heard by the House Ways & Means Committee, which has scheduled a hearing for Tues., Feb. 17.
Latest AIA News & Information
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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
- Statute of repose
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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