Week in Review - 06/29/2018

Week in Review - 06/29/2018

AGRICULTURE

Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) formula changes in budget bill HB49 (R. Smith) have led to lower taxes for farmers in 2018, Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) Division of Tax Equalization Assistant Administrator Gloria Gardner said Tuesday. "The capitalization rate for 2018 is 8 percent, a significant jump over the 6.6 percent rate in 2015. A higher capitalization rate means lower land values," Gardner said during a public hearing on the proposed values for tax year 2018.


EDUCATION

Auditor Dave Yost needn't be an official party to litigation on disposition of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) assets in order to secure data he wants for investigations, a Franklin County judge ruled in a denial of Yost's request to intervene.


An education deregulation package that the Senate passed unanimously split the House Education Committee along party lines Tuesday after the addition of amendments on e-schools among other changes. After caucus gatherings of more than an hour, the committee adopted six amendments to SB216 (Huffman), withdrew two amendments approved at a previous hearing, and tabled or outright rejected a few others. The changes incorporate some elements of HB707 (Faber-Reineke), the newly introduced e-school reform legislation that builds on recommendations of Auditor of State Dave Yost. They also temporarily protect some schools, including Ohio Virtual Academy, from sanctions for poor academic performance because they took in large numbers of students from the defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), whose problems helped to inspire Yost's recommendations and HB707.


The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday adopted several amendments into charter school public money bill HB87 (Roegner) before reporting it out of committee. Two of the amendments seek to clarify e-school language accepted into a separate education-related bill in the House. Both HB87 and SB216 are on their way to the governor after receiving final approval in both chambers on Wednesday.


The Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC) focused Thursday on state efforts addressing both edges of the K-12 system -- publicly funded child care and early education and programs for adults to earn high school diplomas. Professionals involved in helping adults earn high school equivalence or an actual diploma through the 22+ Program and Adult Diploma Program made several suggestions to lawmakers on how to improve them.


ENERGY

The policy battle over the future of the coal-fired Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) goes before the Supreme Court of Ohio Tuesday, when justices will consider whether subsidies approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for American Electric Power (AEP) of Ohio's stake in OVEC constitute illegal "transition" charges in an otherwise deregulated market. The Court will hear oral argument in two AEP cases appealed by the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) and Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), which point out that lawful utility charges to transition from a regulated to a deregulated generation market ended a long time ago in legislative terms -- 2010 to be precise. They say AEP's initial "placeholder" power purchase agreement (PPA) and subsequent billing rider supporting OVEC -- both sanctioned by PUCO in the face of an unfavorable ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) -- violate the General Assembly's move to electric competition.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY/STATEHOUSE

The House and Senate both announced their session schedules for the remainder of 2018: the Senate has "if needed" sessions set in July, August and two in September before a regular session set for Tuesday, Sept. 25. The House has two "if needed" sessions set for September and no regular session until Nov. 14.


TAXATION

Policy Matters Ohio (PMO) Tuesday unveiled a proposal to overhaul Ohio's personal income tax to raise more revenues while leaving the highest tax bracket taxpayers still paying less than they did in 2005 -- and that is before the coming "giant" federal tax cuts already approved by Congress, PMO staffers pointed out. The increased revenue would be used for a variety of services PMO representatives said have suffered due to cuts over that time.