Political briefs – July 23

Staff report


HUSTED ANNOUNCES NUMBER OF VERIFIED SIGNATURES ON RESPONSIBLEOHIO PETITIONS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted certified that ResponsibleOhio has failed to meet the necessary requirements to place their proposed constitutional amendment, titled “Marijuana Legalization Amendment,” before voters on the November 2015 General Election Ballot.

Petitioners were required to submit at least 305,591 valid signatures, a number equal to 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014. Having submitted only 276,082 valid signatures statewide, ResponsibleOhio has failed to meet this requirement.

As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners are also required to have submitted signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, collected enough signatures equal to five percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014. The petitioners met this requirement, having collected enough signatures to meet the five percent threshold in 73 counties.

FOLLOWING SERIES OF FIERY ACCIDENTS, BROWN CALLS FOR STRONG OIL TANK RAILCAR STANDARDS TO PROTECT OHIO COMMUNITIES – Following a series of fiery accidents in Ohio and around North America, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for strong safety standards for railcars transporting hazardous liquids in order to protect Ohio communities. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that trains carrying crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times per year for the next 20 years – causing as much as $4 billion in property damage.

“We’ve seen too many derailments of trains with unsafe cars, often carrying crude oil and other hazardous material. It’s time to put a stop to these dangerous and costly spills,” Brown said. “That’s why I introduced legislation that would help reduce risks to communities near railroad tracks by phasing-out older tank cars, providing a tax credit to help companies upgrade to newer, safer cars, and help communities better prepare for accidents. I’m hopeful we can prevent future accidents and provide relief for communities that watch these trains roll through town each day.”

Brown was joined by Mike Taylor, assistant chief of the Steubenville Fire Department, to outline the importance of speeding up the phase-out of older, dangerous tank cars and encourage companies to replace them with newer, safer cars.

PORTMAN AMENDMENT INCENTIVIZING EMPLOYERS TO HIRE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED OHIOANS PASSES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, announced the passage of his amendment to the tax extenders bill that would make long-term unemployed Americans eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). Currently, the WOTC provides an employer tax credit of between $1,200 and $9,600 per employee for hiring and retaining veterans, ex-felons, the disabled, summer youth employees, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income recipients. Portman’s amendment adds to this to offer employers a $2,400 credit for first year wages paid to the long-term unemployed.

“I’m pleased my amendment passed the committee with strong bipartisan support today because it will help encourage businesses to hire long-term unemployed Ohioans,” said Portman. “At a time when thousands of Ohioans are struggling to find work in this weak economy, we must make it a top priority to connect them with a job, as well as create good tax policy that encourages employers to hire those who have the most trouble finding work. I am hopeful that as we move forward, we put an end to temporary tax policies, and make permanent deserving provisions like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.”

Last year, Portman authored the bipartisan unemployment insurance agreement that would extend unemployment insurance for long-term unemployed Americans. Portman played a key role in ensuring the bill was fully paid for, that it was short-term, and that it included reforms to the broken program that’s failing to connect Americans with jobs.


Staff report

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