Calfee Report on Ohio Government: Your Monthly Update from the Statehouse
October 5, 2012
Governor signs pension system reform bills
Lawmakers and retirement system leaders celebrated this month as Governor John Kasich signed five pension reform bills that were years in the making. The five bills were a result of a bipartisan effort and were co-sponsored by Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati). The bills included:
The bills vary in their approach but generally aim to improve the finances of the systems with a combination of later retirement ages, requiring longer careers to qualify for full benefits, cost-of-living reductions and employee contribution. Retirement system and legislative leaders alike highlighted how the legislation sets Ohio apart from other states where national attention has focused on strained state pension systems in places like California and Illinois. The bills take effect Monday, January 7, 2013, except for provisions granting retirement system boards authority to make additional benefit changes if necessary, which are delayed six months to allow more study.
Ohio House Manufacturing Task Force reaches out to industry
Members of the Ohio House’s 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force have been conducting hearings around the state the past two months to facilitate discussion and interaction between Ohio’s manufacturing community, public policymakers and interested parties regarding the state of manufacturing in Ohio and what can be done to improve Ohio’s manufacturing competitiveness in the 21st century. The hearings, which are scheduled at select manufacturing facilities around the state, have included tours of the facilities for the legislators followed by a public hearing with presentations from specific industry representatives. To date two hearings have taken place: at The Timken Company in Canton (steel, ceramics, shale gas and paints and coatings) and at Owens-Illinois in Perrysburg (glass, metal forming, appliance and advanced energy industries). The task force has also heard presentations regarding energy reliability, electricity regulation and business taxation.
Members of the task force include: Representatives Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), chair; Ross McGregor (R-Springfield), vice chair; Christina Hagan (R‐Alliance); Anne Gonzales (R‐Westerville); Barbara Sears (R‐Monclova Twp.); Denise Driehaus (D‐Cincinnati); Jack Cera (D‐Bellaire); Sean O’Brien (D‐Brookfield); and Nickie Antonio (D‐Lakewood).
Upcoming hearings include:
Wild animal legislation takes effect while state plans for animal holding facility
Ohio’s dangerous wild animal ownership regulations included in Senate Bill 310 (Balderson) went into effect September 5, 2012, requiring owners to register their animals with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The bill is the result of the release of more than 50 wild animals in Zanesville in October 2011 by their owner, who then committed suicide. That release had the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office asking everyone to stay inside as deputies and animal experts searched for tigers, leopards and bears, among other animals. Most of the animals were killed by deputies. The new law requires owners to register their animals with the department and to have a microchip implanted in each animal and restricted snake by November 5, 2012. The bill also limits the trade in wild animals and prohibits the release of animals into the wild. Starting January 1, 2014, possession of dangerous wild animals and restricted snakes will be prohibited unless the owner qualifies for an exemption included in Senate Bill 310 or is granted permission by the department.
As part of its preparation for enforcement of the bill, the Department of Agriculture received approval to build a temporary housing facility for confiscated or seized animals, the only known state-owned facility of its kind in the country. The state has approved a $3.5 million project budget, for the facility to include a 22,000- to 30,000-square-foot building within a prison-grade security fence. The facility will be located behind the Department’s headquarters in suburban Columbus, causing some residents to question the safety of such a facility so near homes and businesses. Director David Daniels said state officials decided to build after they were unable to find a private facility to partner with should the state need to seize animals.
Leah Pappas Porner named one of the “Most Effective Law Firm Lobbyists” by Opinion Strategies, serves as chair of the Government Relations and Legislation group. Leah works closely with clients to develop effective government relations strategies. She regularly advises clients on the legislative and executive agencies and regulatory matters.
Leah has extensive experience in leading and defending legislative efforts, including building coalitions and working with stakeholders, trade associations, and she has counseled clients regarding issues affecting the higher education, Medicaid, utility, charter school, banking, environmental, gaming and housing industries as well as tort reform and civil procedure reform.
The Government Relations Team
Calfee’s comprehensive Government team consists of lobbyists who are also attorneys that have held top positions in government and business. From a former President of the Ohio Senate, member of Congress, Mayor of Cincinnati, and Director of the Ohio EPA, our collective backgrounds enable us to help clients communicate and work effectively with all levels of government – on both sides of the political aisle.
This alert is provided by Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP for education and information purposes only. This alert is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects. The resolution of legal issues depends upon the specific facts of a particular situation and the laws involved. This alert may be considered advertising under applicable laws.