LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: McColley helps pass state transportation budget

COLUMBUS — An area legislator was at the center of a major budget bill passed last week.

Ohio House of Representatives

Rep. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon: The Ohio House passed House Bill 26 on Wednesday, a bill sponsored by McColley that sets the funding plan for the state’s transportation budget for the next two years.

The budget would invest more than $7.8 billion during the next two years to try to meet the state’s current infrastructure needs, retaining the motor fuel tax at the wholesale level to allow business owners to have a month after purchasing fuel before having to pay tax. The bill also exempts compressed natural gas from the motor fuel tax to allow the new industry get its footing.

McColley also chairs the House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation, which played a key role in crafting the bill.

“House Bill 26 strikes a balance between financing Ohio’s transportation priorities while being a responsible watchdog of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “A lot of creative ideas and input went into the crafting of this budget, and I am confident that it will help Ohio meet its infrastructure needs in the future.”

Along with budgetary provisions, the bill would also permit an unattended vehicle to be running if locked or parked on residential property, allow a watercraft operator to monitor skiers with a mirror rather than require a second person to be in the craft to monitor them, and allow county commissioners to levy a $5 motor vehicle license fee for transportation-related expenses.

The bill will now be considered by the Ohio Senate.

Other bills passed include House Bill 1, which allows victims of dating violence to file for civil protection orders, and House Bill 5, which defines a microbusiness as an independently owned and operated for-profit business with 20 or fewer employees. Currently, such businesses are lumped in with other small businesses with up to 400 employees.

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green: Latta helped pass three pieces of legislation this week in the House aimed at increasing transparency and foster regulatory reform.

The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act would establish a Retrospective Regulatory Review Commission to identify out-of-date and inane regulations that hinder economic growth. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Insight, Reform and Accountability Act codified the role of that office as a regulatory overseer that ensures agencies follow proper procedures when developing rules of significance. The Regulatory Integrity Act calls for increased transparency in how agencies communicate with the public about proposed regulations, prohibiting those agencies from soliciting support in favor or against regulatory action.

“The legislation passed in the House this week will provide more transparency on how these regulations are being developed so the public, and Congress, can effectively weigh in,” Latta said. “More than that, we’re also clearing the books of old, outdated, and unneeded regulations that are negatively affecting job creation and economic growth. The era of overregulation is coming to an end, and these bills will help put a stop to a runaway regulatory process.”

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio:On Friday, Brown outlined a plan he created that aims to “restore the value of work in America,” he said.

Outlining the plan during a speech at Ohio State University, Brown said that Americans’ hard work needs to start paying off through increased wages and benefits, increased power for workers in the workplace, more allowances for workers to save money for retirement, and more encouragement for companies to invest in workforce.

“We need to change the way we think about the American economy. It’s not businesses who drive the economy — it’s workers. We grow the economy from the middle class out,” Brown said. “If work isn’t valued, Americans can’t earn their way to a better life for their families — no matter how hard they work. And without a strong, growing middle class to consume goods and services, our economy simply can’t grow.”

The plan was met with criticism from the Ohio Republican Party, which claimed it was an attempt from Brown to deceive American workers.

“Today’s theatrics are a blatant attempt to deceive Ohio workers into accepting failed liberal policies, like an anti-worker $15 minimum wage, by sprinkling in some rhetoric resembling President Trump’s,” party chair Jane Timken said. “Small-business owners, including Hillary Clinton supporters, have made it clear that these policies would force them to eliminate jobs and opportunities for inexperienced workers. Sherrod Brown is proving once again that he would rather stand with the fringe left than the majority of his constituents.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: On Thursday, Portman joined three other senators in introducing legislation to make the Independence at Home demonstration program in home-based primary care a permanent, national Medicare program.

IAH is a program that helps patients with debilitating diseases receive coordinated, home-based care from a team of health care professionals.

“It has made a difference by reducing hospital readmissions, preventing costly hospital and nursing home admissions, and, most importantly, keeping our seniors healthy and in their preferred care setting,” Portman said. “Our bipartisan legislation would make the program permanent so that it can continue to help, and make it accessible to Medicare beneficiaries in Ohio and across the nation so that it can help more of our seniors.”

McColley key player

By Craig Kelly

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Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.