By TERRY FLEMING // TC Fleming & Associates
The Ohio Conference Committee on the State Budget came to agreement on June 29th and sent the more than $190 billion budget to Governor DeWine, who exercised his veto authority on 44 issues. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed language that would have given the State sole purview in regulating tobacco and tobacco products including vapors. The legislature did not have enough support to override this veto which means MIRA, along with other tobacco interests, will have to potentially deal with local governments who seek to ban the sale of these products in their cities.
There was language that restored the .30¢ per pack tax in Cuyahoga County and did away with the unworkable 8% per pack, but the language also allows the Arts Council in Cuyahoga County to seek tax increases with no cap. It’s very unlikely that the General Assembly will take any action on tobacco products in this session of the legislature.
There was very good news on the tax front and a missed opportunity on dealing with Commercial Activities Tax (CAT). The final package on income taxes went with just two income tax brackets, those making less than $26,000 will pay no tax, those making $26,000 to $100,000 will pay 2.75% income tax while those over $100,000 will pay 3.5% income tax. Legislative leaders have stated they’d like to do away with income tax all together in the near future. A number of legislators expressed support for a flat tax but that didn’t get much support from the majority. The legislature included language that would have eliminated the CAT from about 90% of all taxpayers but Governor DeWine vetoed that language. The bill did give a $2,500 tax credit per child deduction on income tax.
The budget also made major changes to education and greatly limited the power of the state board of education.
One of the more interesting issues was the prohibition of Ohio farmland being owned by foreign interests.
The Republican majority was successful in putting a constitutional amendment on the August 8th ballot that would have made it much more difficult for citizen initiatives to make the ballot. The change would have required 60% of voters in the previous election to sign a petition to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. It would also require signatures from all 88 counties. Currently only 50% signatures are required and 44 counties are represented. Democrats came out in full force to oppose the amendment saying that the sole purpose was to prevent more liberal abortion language on the ballot and to also prohibit minimum wage language on the ballot. The Democrats, with support from many labor groups and others, prevailed.
A key race for the U.S. Senate in Ohio is heating up as Republicans see next year’s U.S. Senate race as a real chance to beat Democrat Sherrod Brown, flipping Ohio, and possibly the key to flipping the U.S. Senate. Currently three Republican candidates are at the forefront of obtaining the nomination. They are Matt Dolan, Bernie Moreno and Frank LaRose. Dolan is a State Senator from Cleveland and ran for U.S. Senate last year, but lost to J.D. Vance (R); Bernie Moreno, a car salesman, also ran for U.S. Senate last year; and Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State.
The legislature is in recess and not likely to be back until October or November, but MIRA has been, and will be, in contact with legislative leaders to discuss issues of importance to our members. Contributing to MIRA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) greatly helps when dealing with state legislators. Please consider a donation to this important issue.