In the remaining days of Ohio’s lame duck legislature, lobbyists were as thick as thieves Tuesday at the Statehouse in Columbus, where substitute bills were accepted for two controversial bills, HB 661 and HB 5.
The former bill, controversial because it dares to set automatic pay raises for elected officials well into the future, remained in the House Finance and Appropriations committee following acceptance of a sub bill today.
The later bill, likewise controversial because is messes with revenue sources cities depend on to operate, is widely anticipated to pass out of Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday, following acceptance of a substitute bill late in the afternoon.
HB 661 sponsor Gerald Stebeleton, a Republican from Lancaster, said the new bill will, among other changes, create the 9-member Ohio Public Officials Compensation Advisory Commission, and reinstate the cost of living adjustment for members of the General Assembly and statewide elected executive officers. “We’ll try it again until we get it right,” Stebelton said today. Read the HB 661 Sub Bill.
HB 5, which revises the laws governing income taxes imposed by municipal corporations, is expected to pass out of Senate committee Wednesday, according to the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Cheryl Grossman, a Republican from Grove City, who spoke to OhioNewsBureau at the hearing. Cleveland’s Income Tax Commissioner, Nassim Lynch, offered opponent testimony as did City of Columbus Income Tax Administrator Mindy Frank.
Mr. Lynch reminded committee members that the city has not increased its income tax rate for 30 years due to fiscal responsibility demonstrated by current Mayor Frank Jackson and his predecessors. Offering a conservative estimate of how much lost revenue HB 5 would cause Cleveland to lose, Lynch said it would be a minimum of $3 million and probably a lot more. “Some items in this bill have the potential to cost the City of Cleveland … revenue it cannot afford to lose,” he said. Lynch supplied committee members with a letter from Mayor Jackson and a Resolution passed by Cleveland City Council in opposition of the bill.
Ms Frank told Senate members that she and her colleagues were “disappointed with the version of this bill that passed the House.” She expressed skepticism that the methods of the State of Ohio Department of Taxation represent best practices in the area of municipal taxation, and that “what works for one will work for the others.” Franks said municipalities perform and supply basic services for a large majority of Ohio’s citizens, who she said are ‘very demanding customers.” She added, “Reliability and predictability of the revenue stream is crucial to the efficient operation of city business … any interruption or reduction of that stream will impact citizens of our local jurisdictions and the State of Ohio.” Read the HB 5 sub bill.
House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Rep. Michael Stinziano of Columbus, got its first hearing today before the House Committee on Policy and Legislative Oversight. The resolution “eliminates the requirement that an elector be registered to vote” and “specifies that every elector has the right to vote in the exercise of political power and that nothing in the Ohio Constitution may be deemed to deny, diminish, or impair the rights of any elector.”
Stinziano told Chairman Mike Dovilla, “I introduced HJR 2 with the firm belief that all eligible Ohioans should feel assured that no one can take away this fundamental right. Since the introduction of my resolution, many of my constituents were surprised that such an amendment did not already exist in the Ohio Constitution.”
The former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections during the highly successful 2008 presidential election, Stinziano, whose father served for decades in the House as Chairman of the Insurance Committee, said, “I urge my colleagues to join me in standing up for the people that elected us by protecting the ‘right’ to vote.”
Watch Rep. Stinziano on “60 Seconds Ohio.”