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Capital News: Getting down into the details of state's biennial budget

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Chief Published: February 26, 2017 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS -- It takes a few weeks to really get to know the proposed state budget.

That's because the actual analysis of the legislation -- the lengthy document produced by the Legislative Service Commission that explains, in everyday language, what's being proposed -- isn't posted until well after hearings on the bill begin.

The analysis for HB 49 was finally made available a few days back, with 370 pages of provisions. Some you've likely already heard about -- school funding, medical programs for the needy, tax reform, etc.

Those are all big-ticket items that merit the sort of debate and headline-grabbing attention that they're going to receive between now and the end of June.

But there will also be lots of little stuff tucked into the thousands of pages of spending authority that will be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. It's anybody's guess what kinds of things lawmakers will slip in.

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Consider a few of the little provisions included in the executive budget proposal:

Farm Stuff: The legislation includes language that would allow the state agriculture director "to order the destruction of an animal because of disease before it is appraised, rather than prohibiting the destruction order until after the appraisal as under current law."

The director would have to compile sufficient information to accommodate an appraisal after the fact.

Another provision in the Ohio Department of Agriculture's portion of the budget would enable the agency to assess civil penalties for those propagating or having animal preserves with captive deer without a license, with fines ranging from $500-$10,000.

Clean Shave: The budget bill proposes the creation of a "straight razor license," which would authorize individuals "to shave a person's face around the vicinity of the ears and neckline and to trim facial hair."

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Applicants would have to be at least 18 years old, have an eighth grade or equivalent education and complete requisite board-approved barber school training in shaving and trimming.

According to the analysis, "As shaving and trimming remain part of the practice of barbering, this license would be in addition to, not separate from, the barber license."

New Name: The legislation would rename the "Office of Small Business" inside the Development Services Agency to the "Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship" and shift part of its focus to the promotion of OhioMeansJobs, the website that lists job openings across the state.

Drugs: The budget bill would authorize counties to form "drug overdose fatality review committees" to collect information and promote cooperation among community groups to address the state's ongoing heroin epidemic.

The panels would collect information about those who die from overdoses and provide results annually to state health officials.

Political Campaigns: The legislation would eliminate the personal income tax credit for monetary contributions to candidates running for statewide, general assembly or state board of education seats.

There's a lot more stuff in HB 49. You'll find a copy of the analysis online at www.lsc.ohio.gov, under the main operating budget links.

Just keep in mind there's a lot of time between now and the beginning of the new state fiscal year, and anything being proposed today won't necessarily be a part of the bill tomorrow.

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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