The Ohio Senate's Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony this week from the parents of a LaGrange teen who died from a caffeine overdose. The couple spoke in support of legislation introduced by Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) to ban the sale of pure caffeine products.
Dennis and Kate Stiner appeared before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday in support of Senate Bill 7, which seeks to prohibit a person from knowingly selling or offering for sale a pure caffeine product containing over 250 milligrams of caffeine.
"Their strength and resolve in preventing this from happening to other Ohio families is unwavering," said Manning. "We are grateful for their efforts in championing this legislation."
Logan Stiner died in May 2014 from a lethal caffeine overdose. He was days away from graduating high school.
The proposed legislation would make it illegal to sell pure caffeine products in Ohio. If passed, the sale of pure caffeine products could result in a minor misdemeanor on a first offense and third degree misdemeanors for each subsequent offense.
Senate Bill 7 is awaiting a third hearing before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and State Representative Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) yesterday recognized the the Marion Local and Minster High School football teams for capturing the Ohio High School Athletic Association's 2014 state titles.
“The Midwest Athletic Conference once again delivered two more state football championships,” Buchy said. “I was honored to recognize the efforts of the players on the Minster and Marion Local Football teams. These athletes have shown their superior nature.”
"This is the fourth year in a row that the Marion Local Flyers have been state champions in Division VII for football. But these gentlemen are not just athletes, they are truly scholars. Their overall team G.P.A. is over 3.2. Marion Local is a National Blue Ribbon school of distinction, one of the best in the country," said Faber.
Marion Local, coached by Tim Goodwin, won the 2014 Division VII state title on December 6, 2014 by defeating Norwalk St. Paul 41-0 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The Flyers outscored their opponents 656-88 this season and currently hold a 37 game winning streak.
Addressing Minster coach Geron Stokes, Faber said, "These young men are phenomenal, their team G.P.A. is 3.5. Coach, this is a great team, and you've got to be proud of these young men. We compliment you and your team on a great season. I ask them to continue doing great work academically and continue to be mentors and leaders to all of the other kids in the school district."
The Minster Wildcats won the 2014 Division VI state title on December 5, 2014 by defeating Kirkland High School 46-42 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The state crown is Minster's first in football since 1989.
The Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 1 today, sponsored by State Senators Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) and Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), which continues the state's effort to fight toxic algae in Ohio waterways and ensure clean drinking water for Ohioans.
The legislation helps the state more effectively monitor and respond to water quality issues and bans the application of fertilizer on frozen and over-saturated ground in vulnerable water basins.
Senate Bill 1 also requires the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to designate a coordinator of harmful algae management and response to oversee statewide coordination.
"This is a comprehensive bill that takes a science-based, holistic approach to the factors contributing to algal bloom growth," said Peterson. "I appreciate the partnership of the lake, agriculture and environmental communities to get this done."
The bill also contains, for the first time, an emergency clause to allow Senate Bill 1 to become effective on the day Governor John Kasich signs it.
Governor Kasich issued an executive order last week to protect against the Army Corps of Engineers' open-lake disposal of Cuyahoga River dredge material into Lake Erie.
Senate Bill 1 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.
Ohio Senator Frank LaRose (R–Copley) today introduced legislation aimed at modernizing Ohio’s voter registration process by implementing an online registration system.
Senate Bill 63 would update Ohio’s process, as has been done in nearly half of the other U.S. states, by creating a secure, online voter registration system in addition to the current paper process.
The traditional paper registration system would still remain an option for voters who prefer that method under LaRose’s plan.
“Online voter registration will improve the accuracy of our voter records, reduce the potential for fraud and protect voter privacy, all while reducing costs to the taxpayer,” said LaRose. “Most importantly, online registration will be more convenient for Ohio’s citizens, thus increasing citizens' access to the ballot box, which is a victory for good government and a victory for democracy."
Twenty-four states have already authorized an online registration system, including Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia and New York.
Data suggests an online registration system can save the state between 50 cents and $1.00 on each registration. In a December 2014 publication, the non-partisan National Conference on State Legislatures reported the State of Arizona saved 80 cents per voter registration after switching to online registration.
The three states with the longest history of electronic voter registration, Arizona, Washington and Kansas, have found no report of fraudulent activity or security threats. The modernized registration process also promises to aid in creating more accurate voter rolls by reducing the possibility of clerical and human errors.
Online voter registration has been a top priority for Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Ohio Association of Elections Officials (OAEO), which is a bi-partisan group of elections administration officers from across the state.
Senate Bill 63 received its first consideration by the upper chamber during Wednesday’s session and will soon be referred to a Senate Committee for further deliberation.
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
The Ohio Senate today gave approval to Senate Bill 2, sponsored by State Senator Bob Peterson (R–Washington Court House), which incorporates recent changes in the federal tax code into Ohio’s income tax law.
The legislation will ensure Ohioans have access to available tax credits and will save taxpayers approximately $22 million.
“As Ohioans gear up for the 2015 tax season, it’s imperative that we make sure they have access to every possible dollar and credit they are entitled to,” said Peterson. “This bill provides the necessary updates to make sure no one pays more taxes than are required.”
The legislation was written as an emergency measure so to give Ohioans the ability to take advantage of the credits beginning this tax year.
Senator Peterson serves as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Ways and Means, the influential panel charged with oversight of Ohio’s tax code.
Senate Bill 2 will now be delivered to the Ohio House of Representatives for further deliberation.
The Senate will consider the following during today’s session (1:30p):
State Senators Dave Burke (R–Marysville) and Frank LaRose (R-Copley) introduced legislation on Monday that would ensure Ohio’s commitment to veterans by assisting them in gaining access to healthcare benefits which they have earned.
“For some, federal veteran’s benefits are much more broad, deep and less costly than state Medicaid,” said Burke. “Identifying these veterans, who could still choose either program, is important as they would receive more services than they are currently receiving through Medicaid.”
“Several healthcare options exist at the state and federal level for veterans,” said LaRose. “The problem is that many veterans don’t know the benefits that are available or how to navigate the system to receive them. This program will help clarify this process for them so they can gain access to the assistance they very much deserve.”
Senate Bill 10 will require the Ohio Department of Medicaid to utilize the Public Assistance Reporting Information System to identify Medicaid beneficiaries who may qualify for various enhanced healthcare benefits provided by the Department of Defense or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Once identified, individual veterans and their families will have the option to either continue receiving their current Medicaid benefits or enroll in the available federal programs. The bill allows veterans and their families to choose the option that best suits their situation.
According to the 2010 Survey of Veterans released by the Department of Veterans Affairs, 28 percent of veterans had never used VA healthcare services. Of those individuals, 42 percent said that they were not aware the benefits were available. This bill will work to ensure all Ohio veterans are aware of the services available to them.
Similar programs have been adopted by states across the country to not only enhance the medical care for veterans, but have also seen an overall costs savings for the states. Since the inception of the program in the State of Washington in 2004, the program has been credited with saving the state $30 million.
Senate Bill 10 will soon be referred to committee for further consideration.
State Senators Bob Peterson (R–Washington Court House) and Randy Gardner (R–Bowling Green) today introduced Senate Bill 1, which seeks to ramp up the state’s efforts to fight toxic algae and support clean drinking water.
The legislation would establish the Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response under the direction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The new department would work with local governments and water treatment plants to coordinate support for Lake Erie and inland lakes with other state agencies.
The new effort would also update provisions to support agriculture’s role in working to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie and inland lakes.
“Ohio’s algae problem has been growing in severity over the past several years and we need to start bringing all the parties together and work together on a comprehensive solution,” said Peterson. “This bill will do just that so we can all be a part of preserving Ohio’s waterways.”
The bill calls for the new Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response to coordinate responsibilities with the departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Health and must consult with local governments and water treatment plant operators. The office must monitor water intakes and conduct in-lake testing for toxic algae in addition to providing support for testing, treatment and training for personnel at drinking water and wastewater plants.
The bill also provides an update in Ohio’s Healthy Lake Erie Fund, which has provided money for monitoring the tributaries feeding into Lake Erie and grants for conservation measures to assist farmers in best management practices.
Among the key provisions in the bill in addition to the new Office of Harmful Algae and Management Response and the Healthy Lake Erie Fund update are:
The legislation received its first hearing in the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture Tuesday morning.
The bill was introduced as an emergency measure to allow the initiative to become immediately effective with the Governor’s signature.
State Senator Larry Obhof (R–Medina) today announced that he has introduced Senate Bill 26, which will reduce the filing fees necessary to start a new business in Ohio. Under Obhof’s bill, these costs would be reduced by more than 20 percent.
Senator Obhof’s bill mirrors the language of House Bill 3, which was recently introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by State Representative Mark Romanchuk (R–Ontario).
“We have made important changes in recent years to improve our state’s economy, including cutting taxes and implementing regulatory reform,” Obhof said. “Senate Bill 26 will build on these reforms by making it less expensive to start up a business in Ohio.”
Senate Bill 26 would reduce Ohio’s current filing fee from $125 to $99. Other states report filing fees as high as $500, and some require additional annual renewal fees. According to the office of Secretary of State, which is responsible for accepting and processing new business filings, this will be Ohio’s first reduction in fees associated with business filings in modern history. Secretary of State Jon Husted has supported the fee reductions, arguing that the change will encourage economic growth and will make Ohio more competitive with other states.
Senator Obhof’s bill would also ensure that Ohio-based companies have access to the appropriate features and information on OhioMeansJobs.com, a statewide database of job openings intended to give Ohioans’ greater access to job opportunities by linking employers and people who are looking for work.
Ohio’s business climate has improved in recent years, with 2014 setting a record of 93,775 new businesses filed with the Secretary of State’s Office – the fifth consecutive year that the state had a record number of new business filings. Ohio’s unemployment rate has fallen from 9.3% in December 2010 to 4.8% in December 2014, and the state’s private sector employers have added more than 280,000 new jobs over that period.
“Ohio has made good strides forward, but we must continue to find ways to improve,” Obhof said. “Senate Bill 26 will help build on the progress we have made.”