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Government and Politics

Ohio Republicans expect to unveil their sales tax alternative this week
Ohio's House and Senate are holding hearings on the state income tax, internet and sweepstakes cafes and more.

Bill Cohen
In The Region:

No floor votes on major issues are set for this week in the Ohio Legislature, but it could still be a big week for lawmakers.

Statehouse Correspondent Bill Cohen reports that’s because we may finally get a look at how majority Republicans plan to pay for a big cut in the state income tax.

Hear Cohen give a preview on state legs next week

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For weeks, Republicans who dominate the House and Senate have declined to endorse G.O.P. Gov. John Kasich’s idea to extend a 5 percent sales tax to about 80 services, including cable TV, haircuts, advertising, movie and sporting-event tickets. Kasich has pushed the idea as way to pay for a multi-billion dollar cut in the state income tax—20 percent for families, 50 percent for most small companies.

Now key Republican state representatives are poised to unveil their alternative way to fund an income tax cut. That’s expected at a Tuesday session of the House Finance Committee. The panel plans four hearings this week, including a rare Friday session.

June 30 is the deadline for lawmakers to pass a new two-year state budget and any tax changes needed to pay for it.  

Gambling or sweepstakes
Meanwhile the Ohio House-passed plan to that shut down many of Ohio’s estimated 800 internet cafes and sweepstakes stores is set for its first hearing in a Senate committee. Some senators think the bill goes too far and the industry, accused of offering illegal gambling, should simply be regulated more.

Trading needles
In the House Health Committee, a third hearing is set this week on a bill that would authorize the setup of local syringe exchange programs. The idea would be to let drug addicts get clean needles so they wouldn't spread disease. But critics charge the move will encourage illegal drug abuse.

As usual, legislators will continue this week looking at proposals to designate certain days, weeks or months each year with official names to educate Ohioans about various medical problems and diseases. Among the latest are campaigns to call October Dyslexia Awareness Month and mid-July Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Week. 

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