This Week in Public Policy: June 17 - 21, 2019

This Week in Public Policy provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.

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In Ohio

On Monday, June 17th, the Senate Finance Committee  heard ALL testimony on the substitute version of House Bill 166 (State Budget). Testifying in support of the Informed Choice amendment was Caroline Lahrmann, a parent of a child living in an ICF. Lahrmann explained to the committee that County Boards of Developmental Disabilities don’t actually follow the rule requiring information about Intermediate Care Facilities. 

On Tuesday, June 18th, The House Health Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 214 (Prescription Readers). The bill would require pharmacies to inform individuals they believe to be blind or have low vision that a prescription reader is available to them. The bill also requires health benefit plans to pay for prescription readers.

On Wednesday, June 18th, The Senate Finance Committee adopted an omnibus amendment to the state budget bill. Changes included as part of the omnibus amendment:

  • Increases the franchise permit fee for ICFs from $18.02 to $23.95 in 2020 and to $24.89 in 2021. Also requires the fee to be collected on a quarterly basis instead of on an annual basis. Requires that the fee be equal to the fee rate multiplied by the number of ICF inpatient days for the quarter.
  • Limits the amount of money that a county board of developmental disabilities can keep in their reserve fund. Funds held in excess of the statutory limit can be considered by a county budget commission when determining whether to reduce the amount of taxes that a county may levy on the board’s behalf. Also requires that consideration be given, when considering reducing taxes, to the board’s 5-year projection of revenues and expenditures and that public notice and a hearing occur before the commission makes a decision.
  • Eliminated the $750,000 earmark from Part C Early Intervention line item for the Sight Centers located in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Northwest Ohio. Subsequently, this earmark was restored via an amendment on the Senate Floor on Thursday.
  • Increased the appropriation for Multi-System Youth Custody Relinquishment line item by $2 Million in 2020 and by $6 Million in 2021.

On Thursday, the Ohio Senate voted unanimously to pass the budget bill. The House refused to concur in the Senate amendments, forcing a Conference Committee to be formed. Appointed to the Conference Committee were Senators Matt Dolan, Dave Burke, and Sean O’Brien, and Representatives Scott Oelslager, Jim Butler and Jack Cera. The House and Senate have until June 30th to work out matters of difference and send a budget bill to Governor Mike DeWine.

NEXT Week in Publlic Policy: June 24 - 28, 2019

In Ohio

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the ODOT Oversight Study Committee will hold a hearing. ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks will be providing a presentation to the committee. The hearing will take place at 3:00 p.m. in Room 121 of the Ohio Statehouse.

In Washington

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety will hold a hearing titled, “Examining Technological Innovations in Transportation”. The hearing will examine the adopt of technology by transportation stakeholders and the effects of technology on transportation. Scheduled to testify are Mr. Steve Ingracia, Deputy Director of Technology and Strategic Planning  at the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Mr. Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Mr. Patrick Duffy, President of Blockchain in Transport Alliance, Mr. Brent Hutto, Chief Relationship Officer at, and Ms. Ann Schlenker, Director of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory. The hearing will take place at 2:30 p.m. in Room 562 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Amtrak, Next Steps for Passenger Rail.” Scheduled to testify are: Jennifer Homendy, Member, National Transportation Safety Board, Richard Anderson, President and CEO, Amtrak, Ian Jefferies, President, Association of American Railroads, and James Souby, President, Colorado Rail Passenger Association. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.