Action Alert - June 16, 2017
The legislature has a deadline of June 30 to finalize the state budget, and the latest round of changes by the Senate was announced this week. Here are some highlights.
There's some good news:
Elections - Funds to begin replacing aging voting machines and send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters remain in this version of the budget. Encourage your legislators to maintain this funding to make sure our elections continue to run smoothly and securely.
Environment - A House amendment to stop local governments from taking action to prevent lead exposure was removed from the most recent version. Lead poisoning is proven to have long-term negative consequences, and with no safe level of lead, let legislators know allowing local regulation is the right thing to do.
And some bad news:
Housing - The Senate removed a funding increase for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, included in the House-passed version. Urge your legislators to restore funding to strengthen the primary source of support for homelessness and decent, affordable homes for seniors, veterans, and children.
Revenue - Despite an almost billion-dollar budget shortfall, too many legislators still refuse to even consider scaling back business tax cuts implemented four years ago. Instead, they insist closing the gap through cuts, which could have dire consequences for critical programs and local governments that count on state funds. Tell your legislators you support a balanced approach to budgeting that preserves important state services.
Energy - An amendment has been added to expand the allowable locations for wind farms. Ask your legislators to increase wind farm setbacks.
The legislature is rushing through numerous additional bills before they enter summer recess, including: Energy - Senate Bill 155 constitutes a ratepayer-sponsored bailout of two unviable coal plants. It is expected to pass out of Senate committee soon and appears to have support in the House. House Bill 239 is identical and is up for a vote in the House Public Utilities Committee next Tuesday. Please contact your legislators in the House and Senate and urge them to oppose subsidies to electric utilities for these outdated facilities.
Reproductive rights - The legislature is considering more limitations on women's access to healthcare; this week the Senate had a first hearing on Senate Bill 145, which would criminalize one of the most common methods of abortion, and the 'Heartbeat Bill' six-week abortion ban was also re-introduced in the past few weeks. Let your legislators know that these unnecessary reproductive health restrictions should not be their priority.
These are just some of the most recent updates. With more changes to the budget forthcoming and other legislation shifting rapidly, we will issue more alerts as necessary.