Ohio lawmakers wrapped up their work for the year on Wednesday before breaking for the holidays. A look at some issues they debated at the Statehouse during the last scheduled voting session of 2015:
BILLS HEADED TO THE GOVERNOR
State lawmakers sent Gov. John Kasich legislation that would make certain budget corrections, create one set of statewide regulations for ride-sharing services and prohibit public employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application form.
The ride-sharing bill would impact companies such as Uber and Lyft, which use smart phone apps to connect drivers with passengers.
The bill would require such ride-sharing companies to apply for a permit with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and mandate that drivers carry $1 million in insurance covering work for the companies. Coverage could be less when drivers aren’t ferrying passengers.
Among other technical changes, the budget corrections bill would restore some money that certain schools lost in a tax change. School districts affected by the lost tangible personal property tax reimbursement would see almost $50 million over the two-year budget. The bill also would provide Wright State University with $220,000 to help with any security upgrades needed before it hosts a 2016 general election presidential debate.
Another measure, known as “ban the box” legislation, would bar a public employer from including on employment application forms questions concerning an applicant’s criminal background.
FIRST IN FLIGHT FIGHT
Ohio delivered its formal defense to Connecticut’s claim that another aviator beat the Wright brothers as first in flight.
State lawmakers gave final approval to a resolution that responds to a 2013 Connecticut law honoring aviator Gustave Whitehead as flying in 1901. That’s two years before Dayton residents Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first flight off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The Ohio resolution’s sponsor has suggested that Connecticut is changing history without evidence.
Backers argue aviation historians have examined and dismissed accounts that Whitehead flew a powered, heavier-than-air machine of his own design on Aug. 14, 1901, “or on any other date.”
EMERGENCY ANIMAL TREATMENT
Emergency responders in Ohio could provide certain medical treatment to injured pets under legislation the Ohio House passed on an 89-0 vote.
The bill would permit certain emergency personnel to provide an injured dog or cat with some medical services, such as “mouth to snout,” while responding to fires or other emergencies. The responders also could control any bleeding and bandage the animal before it’s transferred to a veterinarian for further treatment.
Sponsoring Rep. Tim Ginter, a Salem Republican, said some EMTs and others are unsure if they can provide basic care to a dog or cat while on the scene. He said the measure helps clear up any confusion.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
State senators voted 31-2 on legislation that would restore a sales-tax exemption for residents purchasing rare coins and precious metal bullion.
The exemption was eliminated following a 2005 scandal centering around Republican fundraiser and coin dealer Tom Noe. Noe was convicted of stealing from a $50 million rare-coin fund he oversaw for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. He’s now serving an 18-year prison term.
The collectible-coin industry has been pushing for the exemption to be restored since it was repealed. Collectors argue that the entire industry shouldn’t be punished because of one bad person’s actions.
A separate measure has passed the House.
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