Legislative Updates

November 26, 2014: Lame-duck session

After months of campaigning for the November 4th election, the Ohio General Assembly returned to action earlier this month for what is turning out to be a very active “lame-duck” session. Why the urgency to pass legislation? Because any bill that is not passed by the end of December must be reintroduced during the next legislative session and begin the committee process all over again. Among a number of other issues, there has been considerable debate on legislation dealing with municipal tax reform, speed cameras, death penalty drugs, redistricting, concealed carry weapons, education, pay raises and telecommunications.

Earlier this month the House added language to HB 490, in regards to the telecommunications issue. The addition would eliminate a long-standing requirement for telephone companies to offer basic local service when the Federal Communications Commission approves regulations to shift the industry from wire lines to Internet protocol technology. When there was talk that Governor Kasich might veto the bill because of this provision, the House added language that would give the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) more authority over the process. A fail-safe mechanism would allow the PUCO to order companies to provide telephone service to certain customers for a year. However, these changes haven’t seemed to alter Governor Kasich’s position on this issue and the threat of a veto to HB 490 is still a very real possibility. OACAA opposes this language as well because it could leave rural and elderly Ohioans without reliable and affordable telephone service. We have communicated this position with the legislature and have asked our agencies to contact their state legislators to express their opposition as well.

July 30, 2013

The 130th General Assembly is now on summer break after finishing the biennial budget, presenting us with a good opportunity to review the bills OACAA has followed and those we will continue to follow when the General Assembly returns:

HB 3 INSURANCE NAVIGATORS (Sears, B.)

Among other provisions, HB 3, which becomes effective on July 30, provides for the certification of insurance navigators for the purpose of assisting individuals in purchasing health insurance through a health insurance exchange established under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. HB 3 also mandates the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) adopt rules to establish a certification and training program for prospective insurance navigators and the insurance navigator’s employees. This will include a criminal records check, initial and continuing education requirements, and an examination.

On July 18th, ODI held a public hearing regarding the draft rules. Phil Cole, OACAA Executive Director, submitted written testimony stating that the rules, as drafted, are written too narrowly, excluding many organizations, including CAAs, from participating as navigators. Mr. Cole also stated that Ohio’s Community Action Agencies see many of the 1.5 million uninsured at our health care facilities. OACAA will continue to discuss this issue with ODI senior staff and will be meeting with them in the near future to hopefully resolve our concern.

HB 59 BUDGET BILL (Amstutz, R.)

Governor Kasich signed HB 59 on June 30, 2013. Appropriation provisions went into effect on July 1, 2013 while non-appropriation provisions go into effect on September 29, 2013.

Some issues of interest to OACAA members include:

Family Planning Funds

This provision requires that the Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), when distributing funds for family planning services, award them first to public entities that (1) have applied for funding, (2) are operated by state or local government entities, and (3) provide or are able to provide family planning services. If any funds remain after distributing funds to those public entities, the bill permits ODH and ODJFS to distribute funds to nonpublic entities in the following order of descending priority:

(1) Nonpublic entities that are federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC lookalikes, or Community Action Agencies;

2) Nonpublic entities that provide comprehensive primary and preventive care services in addition to family planning services;

3) Nonpublic entities that provide family planning services, but do not provide comprehensive primary and preventive care services.

OACAA worked for several months to move our agencies to the top of the priority list, including oral and written testimony by Executive Director Phil Cole and discussions with legislators.

HEAP Weatherization

HB 59 allows up to 25 percent of federal funds deposited into the Home Energy Assistance Block Grant Fund to be used for home weatherization services as determined by the director of Development Services. Until the passage of the budget, Ohio law allowed up to 15 percent of block grant funds to be used for home weatherization assistance.

Medicaid Expansion

Governor Kasich’s budget proposal included expanding Medicaid coverage so 275,000 additional Ohioans would have access to affordable care, but majority Republicans are divided on the issue and the House stripped the language from the bill.

Currently, legislators in both the Senate and the House are working to identify significant Medicaid reforms that would make the program more efficient and cost-effective. This work will continue over the summer, and legislation both reforming the program and expanding eligibility could be ready for consideration when the legislature returns in September. OACAA supports Governor Kasich’s Medicaid expansion proposal and we will work with the administration and members of the legislature to ensure its passage in the fall.

SB 19 FAMILY STABILITY COMMISSION (Tavares, C., Manning, G.)

SB 19 passed the Senate on April 30, 2013 by a vote of 32-1. The bill is now being heard in the House Health & Aging Committee where it has received one hearing to date. The proposed Ohio Family Stability Commission would be charged with studying, reporting and making recommendations to the General Assembly and other appropriate state agencies during the four-year life of the commission. The commission would be comprised of professionals with expertise in basically every discipline that studies or contributes to the stability or instability of a family, and charged to come up with ideas and recommendations to best serve the state. During sponsor testimony, Senator Manning stated that SB 19 would, “Give us, as a legislature, the potential to have enormous resources in tackling these issues that threaten our most important building block – the family.”

HB 1 WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (Derickson, T.)

HB 1 was signed by Governor Kasich on June 27, 2013 and will go into effect on September 26, 2013. The law requires all local areas, whether designated as a local area under the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 or state law, to use OhioMeansJobs as the labor exchange and job placement system for the area while prohibiting any additional workforce funds from being used to build or maintain any labor exchange and job placement system that is duplicative to OhioMeansJobs. The new law will also require, within six months after the bill’s effective date, that every local area, whether designated as a local area under WIA or state law, to name its one-stop system as “OhioMeansJobs (name of county) County.”

March 21, 2013
OACAA Executive Director Phil Cole’s Testimony on Medicaid Expansion

Letter of Support for Medicaid Expansion from Community Action Agencies

February 25, 2013
One of the most important priorities for the Kasich Administration and the General Assembly, if not the most important priority, is to change the workforce development statutes. Below are the bills related to workforce development that OACAA continues to follow and work on:

  • H.B.1 sponsored by Rep Derickson – OhioMeansJobs: The process of updating workforce development statutes is beginning by changing the names of local one-stops to OhioMeansJobs. The belief is that creating a statewide “brand” will make locating these facilities easier for both individuals and businesses.
  • H.B.2 will require an unemployment compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits and to require a claimant to contact a local one-stop office beginning with the eighth week of filing for unemployment compensation benefits. During testimony, the question was raised concerning the requirement that the unemployed person did not have to contact the unemployment office (OhioMeansJobs) until the eight week. This requirement may be changed and moved to an earlier time.
  • S.B. 1 sponsored by Sen. Beagle – OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Fund:In the Ohio Senate, Senator Bill Beagle has sponsored S.B. 1, which will create the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Fund, to create the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Program, to allocate a portion of casino license fees to finance the loan program, and to make an appropriation. Since Senator Beagle is Chair of the Workforce and Economic Development Committee and it is being heard by that Committee, it is not a question of “if” it passes, but “when.” I think it will be sooner rather than later.
  • H.B. 59 is the Biennial Budget Bill: As of this writing, there are no surprises for us. We are watching it closely, especially all matters pertaining to the Development Services Agency.
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