January 24, 2023
Senate Bill 1
The Ohio Senate this past week unveiled Senate Bill 1, a priority bill for both Senate Leadership and the Ohio Chamber, which restructures both the Ohio Department of Education and State Board of Education to provide stronger emphasis on workforce skills and career readiness. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), is a reintroduction of Senate Bill 178 from the last General Assembly.

Under Senate Bill 1, the Ohio Department of Education would be transformed into a new state-level agency known as the Department of Education and Workforce. The agency would be dually-focused on primary/secondary education and towards preparing students for the modern workforce. This is accomplished through segmenting the Department into both the Division of Primary and Secondary Education and the Division of Career Technical Education. This design, as described by Senator Reineke, “is meant to promote communication and collaboration between schools and education leaders to ensure accountability and transparency”.

This legislation also makes broad reforms to the State Board of Education, with many duties presently under the Board’s purview related to primary and secondary education or career education to be assigned respectively to the two new agency divisions. The Board will continue to implement and enforce rules on teacher licensure and the professional conduct of educators, and make determinations on school district territory transfers. It will as continue to appoint the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who would serve as both the Board’s secretary and an advisor to the Department’s Director.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce was a proud proponent of Senate Bill 178 last General Assembly, and expects to make Senate Bill 1 a priority bill for this legislative cycle. The Chamber acknowledges the data shared by Senator Reineke that Ohio’s postsecondary attainment has not kept up with
the needs of the business community. Not only does the state face a talent gap, but students are not adequately prepared at the K-12 level to pursue post-secondary education or earn workforce credentials for in-demand fields. We support SB 1 because greater emphasis must be placed on ensuring accountability for Ohio’s education system and career readiness for Ohio’s students, making for brighter futures for younger Ohioans and encouraging more of them to remain in and build their lives here in Ohio.
Efforts to Reform Ohio’s Marijuana Laws is Underway
In the 135th General Assembly’s first week of committee hearings, sponsor testimony was held on the latest iteration of medical marijuana reform legislation. The bill – Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) – makes significant changes to Ohio’s current Medical Marijuana Control Program and mirrors in many aspects last General Assembly’s reform legislation, Senate Bill 261. 

Under SB 9, the medical conditions eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation is expanded to include autism, arthritis, migraines, terminal illness, opioid use disorder, chronic muscle spasms and any other condition a physician believes is debilitating to their patient. Additionally, SB 9 removes the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s role as a regulator of dispensaries and establishes the Division of Marijuana Control within the Ohio Department of Commerce as the sole regulator of the Medical Marijuana Control Program.

The legislation also charges the Division of Marijuana Control with increasing the number of dispensaries and establishing a new cultivator license category for stand-alone processors. Likewise, it enables cultivators to seek the Division’s approval to expand their cultivation area.

You can review Senate Bill 9 in its entirety by clicking here.

If Senate Bill 9 follows a path similar to SB 261 from last General Assembly, the legislation should proceed through the Ohio Senate expeditiously and without significant changes. However, the process in the Ohio House is more uncertain since SB 261 failed to receive a committee vote after five hearings in House Government Oversight Committee.

Finally, the legislature’s efforts to reform Ohio’s medical marijuana statute is taking place against the backdrop of a ballot effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use. After a settlement agreement was reached last year between the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, lawmakers, and Secretary of State LaRose, lawmakers now have four months to pass the Coalition’s proposed statute allowing recreational marijuana use or else the proposal will likely be placed on the ballot this fall.

You can read the full text of the initiated statute by clicking here.
Mental Health Insurance Assistance
To kick off his second term, Governor DeWine signed an executive order to establish the Mental Health Insurance Assistance Office (MHIA). Housed within the Ohio Department of Insurance, MHIA is the state's official resource to help employers, consumers, mental health advocates, behavioral health providers, and other stakeholders understand and navigate mental health and substance use disorder insurance, so Ohioans get access to the treatment they need.

As we anticipate a continued emphasis on behavioral health from the DeWine Administration, the Ohio Chamber stands ready to assist employers in breaking down stigma and supporting employee mental health. 

For more information on MHIA, please visit their webpage Mental Health Insurance Assistance Office or call 1-855-GET-MHIA.
Tax Update
It was a light week on the legislative front for tax professionals. However, there are a couple of announcements from the Department of Taxation we wanted to make sure members were aware of.

  • Monday January 23, 2023 is the opening day for electronic filing of the 2022 Ohio individual tax and/or school district income tax returns. This matches the opening of the federal tax filing season for 2022 returns. And for the last-minute filers, the deadline is April 18, 2023. As a reminder, filing an extension for filing does not extend the payment due date.

  • During the 134th General Assembly Senate Bill 246 was passed. This legislation allows a qualifying pass-through entity (PTE) to “elect” to be subject to this new entity-level tax. This is in response to the state and local tax (SALT) cap enacted under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017. The Ohio Department of Taxation has now finalized form IT 4738 for a PTE electing to file at the entity level. More information can be found on the Ohio Department of Taxation’s website.

  • Finally, the Ohio Department of Taxation is awaiting word from the governor on a permanent replacement for Commissioner McClain who retired in December. There is no timetable for the announcement. As we await word, Sarah O’Leary is the interim Tax Commissioner and Laura Stanley is now the Chief Legal Counsel. We congratulate both on their new roles.