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ASA Ohio - Legislative Activities Report - July 2015

After months of debate, the Ohio General Assembly put the final touches on the $71 billion state operating budget (HB 64). As with most biennial budget bills, HB 64 consumed the attention of Ohio’s legislators since Governor Kasich unveiled his proposal in February. Since its introduction the two-year spending bill underwent a number of changes from the executive budget proposal, as both the House and Senate put their respective mark on the measure. Once through both chambers, HB 64 was sent to a conference committee where members of both the House and Senate worked on a compromise. With the July 1st deadline rapidly approaching the conference committee issued its report, which was quickly passed by the Senate (23-9) and then the House (61-34). Governor Kasich then put the final touch on the two-year spending package by issuing 44 line-item vetoes. The number of vetoes doubled that of the vetoes Kasich used on the previous budget. Ohio’s legislators now enter summer recess and are not expected to return until mid-September.

The final version of the budget includes a net $1.85 billion tax cut over the next two years. Legislators agreed to a 6.3% across-the-board income tax cut and a tax decrease on businesses for the first $250,000 of income. The plan also includes a lower 3% rate for business income over $250,000. To help pay for the tax reductions the General Assembly proposed increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 35 cents. The House and Senate took a more moderate approach when compared to Governor Kasich’s original plan. The executive budget proposal included a 23% income tax reduction totaling $5.7 billion and also called for $5.2 billion in tax increases. Lawmakers shrunk the income tax cut and stripped nearly all of the tax increases. On the health and human services front, the conference committee went along with the House plan to require the administration to seek a Medicaid waiver from the federal government to create health savings accounts with exclusions for certain program recipients. The move is part of an overall revision to the entitlement plan that entailed a combination of House and Senate proposals.

ASA Ohio remained actively engaged throughout the entire budget process. Through its involvement ASA Ohio was able to defeat a provision added in the Senate that would have dismantled the Motor Vehicle Repair Board. Since its creation in the late 1990’s, Ohio’s Motor Vehicle Repair Board has been a valuable resource to Ohio’s collision repair industry. Through the Board’s simple registration process it has assisted businesses in becoming compliant with state and federal regulations and has given customers the peace of mind knowing that they are having their vehicle serviced by legitimate, law-abiding businesses. ASA Ohio has always worked closely with the Board and together we have been able to make improvements to Ohio’s collision repair industry. While many automotive repair professionals view the board as a helpful resource, some in the Ohio legislature do not share this same sentiment and have been trying to eliminate the Board entirely. The most recent attempt to eliminate the Board occurred in the state operating budget, when the Senate added language that would have completely dismantled it. As you can imagine, the proposed language sparked an outcry within the industry and forced ASA Ohio to bolster its outreach efforts. In less than a week, ASA Ohio was able to organize a grassroots campaign and mobilize its members to begin contacting legislators. Our grassroots campaign was successful and the proposal to dismantle the Motor Vehicle Repair Board was removed in a later version of the budget bill. Despite our ability to defeat the measure, it serves as a reminder that we must always be prepared to defend the Board’s existence.

Although ASA Ohio was on the defensive during the budget process, we remain steadfast in our effort to expand the Board’s jurisdiction to include mechanical repair operators as well. Last legislative session we were a House floor vote away from having a mechanical repair registration bill (SB 232) sent to the governor’s office. This session ASA Ohio has been heavily involved in the development of similar legislation. SB 37 was introduced early in the General Assembly by Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township). ASA Ohio also worked with Rep. Bill Blessing (R-Cincinnati) and Rep. Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton) in developing companion legislation (HB 199) in the House. Both bills have received hearings in their respective chambers. The Motor Vehicle Repair Board has been registering the collision repair industry for over 15 years. Since this time the collision side has made great strides in improving the image of the industry and encouraging fair competition. SB 37 and HB 199 would have a similar impact on the mechanical repair industry by ensuring that all facilities are operating under the same standards. The Board will also serve as a resource for mechanical repair shops that register. The Board constantly monitors state and federal laws and will notify businesses of changes that will impact the industry. Additionally, the Board will serve as a resource to customers who will be able to work with the Board to resolve disputes and identify legitimate repair operators. We hope the legislation will receive additional hearings when legislators return this fall.

Shortly after passing the budget the members of the 131st General Assembly broke for summer recess. Legislators are not scheduled to return to Columbus until mid-September. The Senate recently released its schedule for the remainder of the year. The chamber has a total of 17 session dates in September, October, November and December, with two if-needed dates set for mid-December. The House calls for just 10 session days during the remainder of the year.

Also of note, after months of speculation Governor John Kasich made his presidential campaign official by announcing he is running for president at an event held on Ohio State’s campus on July 21st. Kasich enters a crowded Republican field of 2016 presidential hopefuls, with 16 prominent candidates in the running. Kasich’s announcement comes just weeks before the first presidential debate, which will be held on August 6th in Cleveland. In order to qualify for the debate, Governor Kasich will need to poll in the top ten of all candidates.

ASA Ohio’s success in the legislative process depends largely on the participation of its members. As we engage in issues it will be important to have members volunteer to testify and offer to contact their legislators on issues that are important to the automotive repair industry. ASA Ohio also manages a Political Action Committee. We encourage you to make donations to the ASA Ohio PAC so we can effectively advocate on behalf of the industry. You can learn more about the PAC as well as our legislative initiatives through the following link: http://www.asaohio.org/government-affairs/

We have been tracking the following legislation that has been introduced in the 131st General Assembly:

 

HB1

WORKFORCE GRANT PROGRAM (SCHURING K, MANNING N) To establish the Workforce Grant Program, to authorize an income tax credit equal to 25% of the student loan payments a grant recipient makes per year, and to make an appropriation.

 

Current Status:   

4/14/2015

Re-Referred to Committee

 

HB53

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET (GROSSMAN C) To make appropriations for programs related to transportation and public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.

 

Current Status:   

4/1/2015

SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Eff. 7/1/2015

 

HB64

OPERATING BUDGET (SMITH R) To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.

 

Current Status:   

6/30/2015

SIGNED BY GOVERNOR

Eff. 7/1/15

 

HB104

FRONT-LICENSE PLATE DISPLAY (DEVITIS A) To specify that failure to display a license plate on the front of a motor vehicle that is required to display a license plate on the front and rear of the vehicle is a secondary traffic offense, and to establish a maximum fine of $25 for such an offense.

 

Current Status:   

5/19/2015

House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee

Second Hearing

 

HB205

SELF-INSURING EMPLOYERS (HENNE M, RETHERFORD W) To modify the requirements for an employer to become a self-insuring employer for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law, to transfer authority over the workers' compensation self-insurance program to the Superintendent of Insurance, and to allow certain employers and groups of employers to obtain workers' compensation coverage from a private workers' compensation insurer.

 

Current Status:   

6/9/2015

House Insurance Committee

First Hearing

 

HB206

INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION-CLAIM STATISTICS (HENNE M) To require the Industrial Commission to keep statistics on individual hearing decisions of contested workers' compensation claims.

 

Current Status:   

6/9/2015

House Insurance Committee

First Hearing

 

SB37

MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIR BOARD JURISDICTION (UECKER J) To extend the jurisdiction of the Motor Vehicle Repair Board to persons who perform motor vehicle mechanical repairs.

 

Current Status:   

5/27/2015

Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee

First Hearing

 

 

 

 

 
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