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June 2017



Clermont County Secret Hotel Tax Increase to Build a Sports Facility.
The first I heard of a potential hotel tax increase was at a chamber event either late last year or over the winter. It was a casual mention and a suggestion for a meeting to discuss the idea. My response was, "Well, I'm always willing to meet on any topic." And then I quipped, "Sure, you know, I'm all about higher spending and higher taxes. 😊" I'm not sure who dropped the ball. (It may have been me.) But the meeting never happened and I had figured that the idea had dropped.

Fast forward to May 1, 2017. It was the night before the House version of the budget vote. At our evening caucus (That's the closed-door meetings of the House Republicans.), I was reviewing the latest amendments that had been adopted by the House Finance Committee. That is when I discovered the Clermont County hotel tax amendment. It allows the commissioners to impose an additional one percent lodging tax. At that time, I did not consider the possibility that I was not the only one out of the loop.

Early the next morning and the day of the House version of the budget vote, I got a call from an agitated township administrator wanting to know what I knew and when I knew it. I told him the above story.

Fast forward again to May 12, 2017. I attended a meeting with a group of officials from Union and Miami Townships. None of them, including our State Senator, knew anything about the secret hotel tax or the plan to build a sports facility until after the tax authorization was inserted into the House version of the budget.

While the Senate was debating the House version of the state budget bill, they created a number of amendments including putting some guardrails around the Clermont County hotel tax. That change was a great improvement from the House version.

After the package of Senate amendments were rejected by the House, the budget bill went to conference committee. That is where the horse-trading occurs and the deals are cut primarily between the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. The budget proceedings that I've described are all normal and par for the course.

While all of that was going on, the Union Township trustees created a strongly worded resolution and the Miami Township trustees crafted a letter asking that the authorization to increase the hotel tax get pulled from the state budget. That can be done in conference committee. In addition to working through normal channels, I took the issue directly to the Speaker. He pledged to work the issue but couldn't guarantee anything. At the end of the day, the Senate President refused to budge and the tax authorization remained in the final version of the state budget. That issue was finalized June 27, 2017. The budget bill went to both chambers the following day for an up or down vote. No amendments are permissible after conference committee. The budget bill passed both chambers and is awaiting action by the governor.

Back in Clermont County, I went on a fact-finding mission and attended the June 27, 2017 board meeting of the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). During that meeting and subsequent discussions, I was given assurances that all interested parties would be consulted before any plan is presented to the commissioners for a vote to impose the additional one percent lodging tax for the purposes of purchasing land for a professional sports facility.

Our Biennium State Budgets
As I think back to 2013 when I was in my freshman term, the state budget had a number of things that I liked in it. Some good pro-life legislation comes to mind. I had decided to vote NO primarily because the spending was well in excess of the inflation rate. I recall the Democrats ranting about everything they hated in the budget. They almost talked me into voting YES because I loved everything that they hated. It was a tough vote.

The biennium budget in my second term was during 2015. It had a huge ramp up in spending, tax shifting, and codified Medicaid Expansion. Sure, there were some things in it that I liked, but it was so "over the top," I created the "Becker Budget" as an example of what a budget should look like. It held spending to the inflation rate and phased out the state income tax over five years. I figured that I would probably never vote for a state budget. (They kept getting worse.)

I'm now in my third term and just finished the new biennium state budget. The final version of the bill had a few highlights that got my attention:

·         Freeze on Medicaid expansion. That moves the ball in the right direction.

·         Spending within the inflation rate. No new taxes either.

·         Reduces income tax brackets from nine to seven. That reduces the Ohio Marriage Penalty for lower income people. Again, it moves the ball in the right direction.

·         Makes progress regarding oil and gas drilling on public lands.

·         CAUV adjustment to reduce the hefty property tax increases on farms.

Some of these measures will be line item vetoed. The Speaker is committed to override those vetoes and has scheduled us to be back in session on July 6, 2017.

Frankly, there wasn't much in this bill not to like. Those are the primary reasons why I voted YES.

Ohio House of Representatives - My current active House bills:

HB 53 - Public Sector Right to Work

HB 233 - Decriminalization Effort for Ending Notorious Deaths (DEFEND). It decriminalizes so-called "gun free zones" for Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders.


Video Central
HB 233 (DEFEND) News Report (3 minutes)
Super-Secret Clermont County Hotel Tax (14 minutes)

Event Calendar
June 23 - 29
Clermont County Fair

Becker for State Representative
Ranked a top tier "most archconservative" by the Columbus Dispatch (September 2013).
" arguably the most conservative member of the Ohio House," said The Cincinnati Enquirer (March 2014).
"GOP Ohio House freshman Becker is no shrinking violet," headlined the Columbus Dispatch (December 2014).
Becker wins prestigious William Wilberforce Leadership Award (April 2015).
Rep. John Becker, suburban Cincinnati Republican… [holds] the unofficial title as the General Assembly's most conservative lawmaker, said the Columbus Dispatch (September 2015).

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Introduction (38 seconds)

Second Amendment (36 seconds)

Taxes (49 seconds)

Energy (55 seconds)

Pro-Life (42 seconds)

Creation Science and Evolution (42 sec.)

State Government Spending (45 sec.)

Donate (50 seconds)

State Government (37 seconds)

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Nothing in this newsletter constitutes legal advice. I am not an attorney and do not play one on TV. This newsletter is not sanctioned by the GOP, ORP, or any organization, or affiliation. I am fully and solely responsible for its content. Although I strive for accuracy, this is not "The Gospel according to John." Additionally, I don't necessarily try to be "fair and balanced." After all, I didn't get into politics to be a news reporter. My agenda is to influence public policy consistent with Southern Ohio conservative values. For more information on my motivations or how to get involved, see:
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Pro-Life | Pro-Gun | Limited Government | Lower Taxes

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