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Ohio Senate considers giving tax credits to companies hiring ex-offenders

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: September 30, 2016 1:42 PM

Columbus -- The state would give tax breaks to companies hiring ex-offenders, investors backing new recording studios and consumers buying energy-efficient appliances, under separate bills being considered in the Ohio Senate.

SB 88 would provide tax credits for employers that hire offenders within one year of their release from prison.

SB 191 would provide a tax credit for investors in sound recording studios that are established in the state.

And SB 100 would create a sales tax holiday for Energy Star-labeled appliances.

All three bills were up for first hearings in the Ohio Senate's Ways and Means Committee in late September, as senators met for a couple of days of committee hearings and a floor session.

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Lawmakers aren't expected to return to full-fledged session until after the November election.

Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) said SB 88 would help former offenders reestablish themselves once they complete their prison terms.

"People who have felony records also have families and financial responsibilities," she said in testimony submitted to the Senate's Ways and Means Committee. "They deserve an opportunity to get their life back on track. As lawmakers, we have made commitments to the residents of this state that we will create jobs. Passing this legislation will demonstrate that we are dedicated to creating opportunities for all Ohioans, including those populations that are hard to employ."

SB 88 would cut income, commercial activity or financial institutions taxes up to $2,400 per qualified offender hired, with no limits on the number of individuals employed.

SB 191, meanwhile, would provide a refundable personal income tax credit of up to $50,000 for qualified investments in sound production companies.

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In written testimony, Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) said the incentive was aimed at promoting the state's music industry.

"We hope this incentive will boost our economy and bring more musicians to Ohio, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," she wrote.

Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon) added in testimony, "As this tax credit awareness grow, Ohio will be attracting all sorts of national talents. Once they see and experience what Ohio has to offer, we hope these artists will have an increased interest of staying and becoming fellow Ohioans."

SB 100 would create a three-day sales tax holiday in April annually for purchases of energy efficient appliances and heating and cooling systems. Covered items would include furnaces, air conditioners, refrigerators and air purifiers.

A half a dozen other states have comparable sales tax holidays in place, Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) said in submitted testimony.

Brown offered, "In addition to a reduction in the purchase price, replacing old and outdated household appliances with new energy star qualified products creates long term savings for consumers thanks to their decreased energy usage and the resulting reduction in utility bills. In addition to cost considerations, I think it is important to note that these products help meet some of the most basic needs of families."

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


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