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Another look at new state laws taking effect

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Published: February 19, 2017 12:00 AM

Editor's note: This is part four of a five-part series.

COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich didn't sign everything lawmakers sent him following their lame duck session.

He vetoed a bill that would have ceased requirements for utilities to meet renewable energy and efficiency benchmarks, turning those mandates into goals instead.

He also blocked legislation that would have required the regular review of state agencies by lawmakers and action by the legislature for those offices to continue to operate.

The governor used his line-item veto on several other measures, including a proposal to block abortions within weeks of conception and language seeking to clarify sales tax breaks for oil and gas production.

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There was another line-item veto in the past few days that focused on jukeboxes.

Here are more details on that plus a handful of other law changes Kasich signed that are set to take effect in about three months:

31. Higher Ed Spending: HB 384 allows the state auditor to conduct performance audits on public colleges and universities to pinpoint ways for them to make their operations more efficient.

Republican state Auditor Dave Yost has already spearheaded comparable studies of other agencies, resulting in more than a billion dollars in recommended savings.

"Ohio has a world-class university system," Yost said in a released statement about HB 384 last month. "This bill will help contain costs and further their mission."

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32. About Those Jukeboxes: While Kasich signed much of HB 384, he line-item vetoed language that would have provided a sales tax break on songs purchased and played on electronic jukeboxes.

The governor wrote in his veto message, "Vending is a valued industry in Ohio, but there is no justification for granting a narrow subset of this industry -- digital jukeboxes -- a tax exemption. Adequate ability exists for the vending industry to collect and remit its required sales tax. Further, this broadly drafted exemption could potentially have the unintended consequence of negating the state's tax on all digital audio products (i.e., downloaded books, movies and music). Therefore, this veto is the public interest."

33. Biological Products: HB 505 allows biological products to be substituted by pharmacists, as allowed under federal regulations, in certain medical treatments, including "medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, psoriasis and various forms of cancer," according to an analysis by the Legislative Service Commission.

LSC added, "Whereas a generic drug is a copy of a brand-name drug that has the same active ingredient, an interchangeable biological product has allowable differences because it is made from living organisms. The FDA approves interchangeable biological products that meet standards of biosimilarity and are expected to produce the same clinical results as the reference products they are compared to."

34. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: HB 216 contains a number of provisions related to nursing and health care.

One portion of the bill deals with "hyperbaric oxygen therapy," a treatment involving "the administration of pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber," according to an analysis by the Legislative Service Commission.

Specifically, the legislation authorizes podiatrists to "order and supervise" such treatments, so long as certain requirements are met.

35. Diabetes: That same bill calls on several state agencies study the prevalence of diabetes in the state and develop ways to reduce incidence of the disease.

The state health director, starting next year, will have to provide biennial reports to lawmakers on the findings and progress.

36. Continuing Ed: Professional engineers and surveyors are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years as part of their registration renewals.

HB 236 requires that at least two of those 30 hours cover ethics or "rule relevant to the practices" of engineering or surveying, according to LSC.

37. Getting Pulled Over: Better think twice before driving with expired plates, on the wrong side of the road or with "willful or wanton disregard of safety" in Ohio's smaller townships.

Thanks to HB 378, officers in townships with fewer than 50,000 residents soon will have authority to make arrests on national highway system roads that are located within their borders.

Those officers already had such arrest authority on state highways.

According to LSC, only seven of Ohio's 1,308 have populations or more than 50,000. But there's no exact count on how many of the remainder actually have National Highway System roadways within their borders.

38. Speaking of Getting Pulled Over: An amendment added to HB 455 establishes a 35 mph speed limit on county and township highways located within national parks that span two more counties -- namely the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

39. Drunken Drivers: First-time drunken drivers could be granted unlimited driving privileges, so long as their vehicles are equipped with certified ignition interlock devices, under HB 388.

The units require drivers to blow into them to start the vehicle, checking their blood alcohol content in the process. Cars wouldn't start if drivers had too much to drink.

Existing law allows judges to grant restricted driving privileges to OVI offenders, enabling them to commute to workplaces or schools. Judges also are able to order the use of ignition interlocks, but proponents say HB 388 would expand their use in the state.

Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, offered in a statement, "Many lives will be saved as Ohio increases the number ignition interlocks used by drunk driving offenders."

40. Namesake: The legislation was named Annie's Law, in memory Annie Rooney, a 36-year-old attorney from the Chillicothe area who was killed by a drunken driver in 2013. The latter had been arrested multiples times prior for drunken driving.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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