Week in Review - 01/19/2018

Week in Review - 01/19/2018

EDUCATION

School districts have left as much as $11.5 million from the state's Lead Plumbing Fixture Replacement Assistance Grant Program on the table, state communications officials told Hannah News. Only about $500,000 of the $12 million made available in 131-HB390 (Schaffer-Retherford) has been reimbursed as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to a document from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).


The new version of ACT WorkKeys, the job skills assessment that is used as part of Ohio's graduation requirements, will become available Thursday, Feb. 1, and the old version will stop being available, according to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE.)


Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) appealed Wednesday night to its sponsor and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) with a plan to stay open at least through the end of the school year, offering to take its controversial founder out of the picture. But the sponsor, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, voted Thursday night to shut down the school and is asking a Franklin County judge to put the school in receivership.


Ohio's plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was approved Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education. "Ohio's plan met the requirements of the law, and so I am happy to approve it," said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "This plan should not be seen as a ceiling, but as a foundation upon which Ohio can improve education for its students."


The 2018 "Quality Counts" rankings of state education systems by EdWeek finds Ohio in the middle of the pack again, ranking 22nd and drawing a grade of C, with 74.8 out of a possible 100 points

 

FEDERAL

Following the fourth judicial rejection of the U.S. Department of Labor's (USDOL) six-part test for determining whether interns and students are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Trump administration earlier this month said it was conforming DOL criteria to the "appellate court rulings by using the same 'primary beneficiary' test that these courts use to determine whether interns are employees under the FLSA." A USDOL fact sheet explains that, "The FLSA requires 'for-profit' employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be 'employees' under the FLSA -- in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work."


MEDICAID/MEDICAID REFORM

Children's health advocates were joined by Director Greg Moody of the Governor's Office of Health Transformation in calling on Congress to swiftly reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There are around 220,000 children enrolled through the CHIP program in Ohio.


NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Provisions of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could significantly reduce charitable giving, Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC) panelists said Wednesday. "It is alarming," American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation President Dale Heydlauff told attendees of the event, entitled "Nonprofits: Navigating a Changing Landscape." He said everyone who earns less than $200,000 a year would lose their tax incentive to itemize deductions because of the increase in the standard deduction. "I think it has some potentially profound implications."


TAXATION

While Governing Magazine reported that, "Few developments in Washington will have as direct an effect on state budgeting as the Republican efforts to revise the federal tax code ...," that is not true for Ohio. Hannah News spoke with Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Tim Keen, who said that the federal tax reform legislation as finally passed by Congress and signed by the president in December will "have very few direct effects on Ohio's [personal income] tax system" because, he explained, the bulk of the federal changes were to tax provisions taken after the taxpayer calculates his or her federal adjusted gross income (FAGI); Ohio's tax calculations start with the FAGI, applying its own rates and exemptions. "There will be no material effect on the state's tax receipts." In addition, he noted that the federal business tax changes will have "no impact on Ohio" because the state no longer has a corporate franchise tax. Ohio instead levies the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT), which is not affected.


Legislative proposals to restrict local governments' powers to challenge property values and to delay taxation on increased values for housing developments passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, one along party lines and the other in a mixed vote.