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House Advances School Facilities Funding Bills

On November 29 the Ohio House of Representatives approved HB 148 which wold require the School Facilities Commission to give districts priority project funding if they’ve recently transferred, merged or consolidated operations. 

The OSFC bill would incentivize merged districts to seek construction program money from the state to build new and innovative classrooms as well as partner with universities that offer College Credit Plus, joint sponsor Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) said. The measure advanced with a 74-15 vote.

Under the bill, the commission would determine the state share of project funding based on the lowest percentage of the merged districts. It would also allow OSFC to reduce the share by up to 25% for efficient project features and by another 10% if the new building is on the same land as a state higher education institution.

 “If you’re going to consolidate, it doesn’t make sense not to have new buildings, better buildings more efficiency,” Rep. Patterson said. However, districts that are consolidating because of declining enrollment can rarely afford or find community support in the form of a tax increase to construct new campuses.

Update: Proposed Consolidation of Architect & Landscape Architect Boards

AIA Ohio has closely monitored the possible consolidation of the Ohio Architects and Landscape Architects Boards.  The State Budget Bill (HB64)--introduced in February, 2015-- proposed combining these two Boards which AIA Ohio opposed.  A compromise in the final Budget Bill mandated a Sunset Review Commission study of the issue as well as an investigation into which of Ohio's many state boards and commissions should be abolished or combined.  Following many hearings, during which AIA opposed combining the Architect and Landscape Architect Boards, the Review Commission's recommendations were included in HB 471. The recommendations proposed to abolish numerous boards and commissions and to combine most medical-related boards.  Culminating many House and Senate hearings on the bill, last night (Nov. 30) the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee recommended what likely will become the final version of the bill (Substitute HB 471).  It does not mention the Architect or Landscape Architect Boards. 

The bill will now goes to the Senate floor and, if approved, back to the House for its concurrence in Senate amendments before going to the Governor for his signature.

2016 Election Results

On November 8, 2016, Ohio voters cast ballots in the 2016 general election. Federal offices — including President, U.S. Senate and Ohio Supreme Court — were all on the ballot, as were seats in the Ohio General Assembly. Many counties in Ohio and around the country reported record-breaking early voter turnout, adding to the historic nature of this election.

Presidential 
After quite an unusual election cycle, Donald J. Trump and his running mate Mike Pence clinched the presidential race after claiming many of the country’s swing states, including Ohio, which was won by over 400,000 votes. In a year with record high absentee ballots, the Trump/Pence campaign carried counties that haven’t been won by Republicans since the 1920s. President-elect Trump won 52.05 percent of the Ohio vote and Hillary Clinton won 43.51 percent of the vote. 

U.S. Senate
Incumbent Senator Rob Portman (R) prevailed over former Governor Ted Strickland (D) in the race for U.S. Senate in Ohio, winning 58.32 percent to 36.92 percent. Senator Portman took a significant lead in the polls over Strickland in the weeks leading up to the election. Portman and Strickland also faced Joseph DeMare of the Green Party and Thomas William Connors and Scott Rupert of the Independent Party. Each received 1.62 percent, 1.72 percent and 1.43 percent of the vote, respectively. Senator Portman has held Ohio’s Senate seat since 2011.

U.S. House of Representatives 
Republicans retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge (D), Marcy Kaptur (D), Pat Tiberi (R), Mike Turner (R), David Joyce (R), Tim Ryan (D), Steve Stivers (R) and Jim Renacci (R) all won re-election. Steve Chabot (R), Brad Wenstrup (R), Joyce Beatty (D), Jim Jordan (R), Bob Latta (R), Bob Gibbs (R), and Warren Davidson (R) were also successful.

Ohio House and Senate: Republican Majority
In the Ohio House, the Republican majority increased to 66 seats, up 1 from the current 65. This is the single largest Republican majority in the history of the Ohio legislature. Similarly, in the Ohio Senate, with Frank Hoagland's victory over incumbent Lou Gentile, the Ohio Senate majority, in the upcoming 132nd General Assembly, will be at 24 Republican seats — also the largest Republican majority in the history of the Ohio Senate. These are historic margins within the 2017-2018

Ohio Supreme Court
Judge Pat DeWine (R) of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati prevailed over Judge Cynthia Rice (D) of the 11th District Court of Appeals in Northwest Ohio to fill Justice Paul Pfeifer’s (R) seat on the Ohio Supreme Court bench. (Justice Pfeifer was barred from seeking another term due to his age.) Judge DeWine, the son of former U.S. Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, came away with the win, obtaining 56.42 percent of the votes.

Additionally, Judge Pat Fischer (R) of the 1st District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is currently leading by a narrow 26,000 vote margin over Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court bench. Judge Fischer received 50.31 percent of the votes to fill Justice Judith Lanzinger’s (R) seat. (Lanzinger must also retire due to Ohio’s age requirement.)  While some media outlets have called the race for Fischer, there are still thousands of uncounted absentee and provisional ballots to be verified and possibly counted in late November, but it is too soon to know if those outstanding ballots will affect Judge Fischer’s apparent victory in this very close Ohio Supreme Court campaign. 

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor was uncontested in her bid for re-election.

Pre-election, the court was dominated by Republicans 6-1. With the election of Judges DeWine, Fischer and O’Connor, this will remain the same.  

Architects Registration Board Not included in Consolidation Bill

Gov. John Kasich's latest attempt to consolidate several boards and commissions - a plan the administration hopes to see enacted in the lame duck session - excludes the Architect's Registration Board, but is triggering consternation among members of the medical professional groups that would be consolidated.

Past attempts to cull the number of boards have triggered extensive turf battles among the various groups, most of which successfully convinced lawmakers that their individual oversight panels serve the public and their professions well. But the new proposal to combine 16 medical related boards into eight could be the most ambitious to date and will likely reenergize the constituencies and result in significant pushback in upcoming legislative hearings.

The latest consolidation effort comes as lawmakers wrap up their "Sunset Review" process of deciding which boards and commissions are no longer necessary. 

Introduced earlier this week by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp.), the proposal ( SB 366,  HB 617) follows last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found North Carolina's Dental Board violated antitrust laws by having dentists in effect regulate themselves by having members of the profession serve on the panel.

"With the need to address the Supreme Court case ruling, the General Assembly currently going through the Sunset Review process, and considering our administration's ongoing efforts to reform health care, it is important to look at these things in an interrelated way," said administration spokesman Tom Hoyt, of the Department of Administrative Services. "We applaud Senator Seitz, as well as Representative LaTourette, for taking on this effort and we look forward to working with them to get this to the governor's desk."

Sen. Seitz said his main aim in sponsoring the bill was to deal with the antitrust issue and he agreed to include the board consolidations after discussing the issue with the administration.

The lawmaker, who along with cosponsor Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon) is an anti-trust lawyer, said it was important to address the Supreme Court case so people would be willing to serve on the panels.

"If you face the prospect of antitrust liability, which could be substantial and expensive, you are going to say, 'No thank you, I'm not going to serve my profession,'" he said.

As for the "admittedly contentious and thorny issue of board consolidation," Sen. Seitz said the proposal was crafted after much thought and discussion and avoids involving some of the state's largest regulatory panels.  He said the groupings "conceptually make sense" and pointed to consolidations of state agencies, such as Mental Health and Addiction Services, as examples of how such mergers could work.

The administration distributed a memorandum on its plan to the boards and their constituencies, and many are expected to oppose it. Their arguments harken to past debates over proposed consolidations, which include concerns over lack of sufficient oversight, sufficient representation on the panels, public safety and depleted knowledge of the various professions.

The new structure would retain the Chiropractic, Dental and Nursing boards in their current form and condense others into the following:

·         State Medical Board of Ohio: Ohio Board of Dietetics, Ohio Respiratory Care Board, Medical Board.

·         Ohio Board of Pharmacy: Home Medical Equipment Facility Licensing, Pharmacy Board.

·         Physical Health Services Board: Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainers Board, State Board of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics.

·         Behavioral Health Professionals Board: Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board, Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board, Ohio State Board of Psychology.

·         Vision and Hearing Professionals Board: Ohio Board of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, Ohio State Board of Optometry, Ohio Optical Dispensers Board, Hearing Aid Dealers and Fitters Licensing Board.

The representatives of other boards said they did not have a problem with the component of the proposal that directly addresses the court case.

 

Under that change, DAS would be involved in a third-party review process that "would be triggered when a board has the potential to violate state or federal antitrust law," according to the administration's fact sheet. "The addition of this review process is aimed squarely at shielding boards from potential legal action and specifically designed to prevent delays in important decisions made by the boards."

2020 Tax Study Group Recommends Changes to Historic Preservation Tax Credit

Ohio should beef up reporting requirements for the historic preservation tax credits and give further thought to converting the credit to a grant program, the 2020 Tax Policy Study Committee concluded in a report approved October 31. 

The report cites concerns it's heard about too much credit money going toward "business professional fees" and not actual rehabilitation projects, noting a grant program could help address that concern. 

Other recommendations include the following: 

- "Further enhancements" to the project tracking requirement enacted earlier this year in HB233 (Schuring) to allow the state to estimate preservation credit projects' effects on revenue forecasts. 

- Requiring applicants to show they'll move forward with a project if awarded a credit, and setting a "reasonable period" in which the project must begin to avoid expiration of the credit award. "This will minimize projects in the queue and will provide better tracking of the credits." 

- Consideration of a mechanism to aid in budget deliberations by showing the total allowable amount of credits that can be authorized during a biennium, estimates of credits that will be claimed each fiscal year of a biennium, and estimates of credits that have been authorized but will remain outstanding at the end of a biennium. "The intent of such a provision would be to clearly depict an estimate of the state revenues that will be directly foregone during the upcoming biennial budget and future biennia." 

The commission voted to adopt the report with one change from the initial draft, to emphasize that any conversion to a grant program should affect only future tax credits, without disrupting existing credits.

The biennial budget, HB64 (R. Smith), required the commission to issue a report on the preservation credit and the possibility of converting it to a grant program. The commission is also required to study possible reforms to the severance tax, as well as the concept of converting Ohio's progressive income tax to a flat-rate tax.

The full report is here.

Subcategories

  • Latest AIA News & Information
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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
    • 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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