Blog Posts For The Week Of September 12, 2014 Through September 18, 2014

Gongwer Introduces New Legislative Category Tracking Feature
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: September, 18 2014 10:47 AM

Gongwer News Service today announces a new feature that allows subscribers to track and receive alerts on legislation that falls into general categories.

Under the new system, users can identify the categories in which they are interested.

When new legislation is introduced that matches a tracked category, it will be automatically added to subscribers’ bill tracking profiles, and email alerts on subsequent legislative activity will follow.

If a new bill is not one a subscriber wants to track, it can easily be removed from tracking by clicking the “Stop Tracking” link on Gongwer’s Bill Tracking page.

Categories can be tracked from Gongwer’s Bill Tracking page, the Legislation page, or from a page that displays all categories.

These new functions are available to subscribers at no additional cost.

Besides tracking by category, Gongwer’s bill tracking services allow subscribers to track legislation by bill number, keyword, Revised Code section and sponsor. Earlier this summer, Gongwer also introduced a new committee-based alert & tracking service.

For more information about Gongwer’s bill tracking and alert system, please see the Gongwer Bill Tracking Guide.

Release: A Matter of Balance now available in all 88 Ohio counties
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: September, 17 2014 9:34 AM

Community-based workshops help older adults prevent falls

Columbus, Ohio – A Matter of Balance, the award-winning program that helps older adults reduce their risk of falls, is now available in all 88 Ohio counties, just one year after the STEADY U Ohio initiative made statewide expansion a priority. At the time of the launch of STEADY U in September, 2013, “A Matter of Balance” was available in half the state. Over the past year, the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Older Adult Falls Prevention Coalition have worked to secure community partners and grow the program’s infrastructure.

“We know that most older adults would prefer to continue living independently in their own communities for as long as possible, but falls are a major threat to that independence,” said Bonnie K. Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “A Matter of Balance works because it is both evidence-based and community-based. Those who complete the program report feeling more in control over factors that can cause them to fall.”

An older Ohioan falls every two minutes on average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, six emergency department visits and one hospitalization each hour, and three deaths each day. The number of fatal falls among older Ohioans increased more than 165 percent from 2000 to 2012. But falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented.

“One of the biggest risk factors for falls is a fear of falling. When you get past that fear and take control of your life again, your risk of falling goes down immediately,” added Director Burman.

A Matter of Balance focuses on practical coping strategies to reduce fear of falling and to diminish the risk of falling. The curriculum includes lectures, group discussions, mutual problem solving, role-play activities, exercise training, assertiveness training, and home assignments. Participants practice exercises to improve strength, coordination and balance, as well as learn how to conduct a home safety evaluation and get up and down safely.

Classes are led by coaches who are recruited and trained by master trainers. Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Aging partnered with MaineHealth’s Partnership for Healthy Aging to coordinate a master trainer train-the-trainer session to help expand the program into unserved and underserved areas.

Learn more about “A Matter of Balance” at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.

About STEADY U Ohio – Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.

Sen. Frank LaRose Column: Ohio’s Formula for Agricultural Property Tax: The Complexity of CAUV
By Gongwer Staff
Posted: September, 16 2014 2:34 PM

As the warmth of summer slowly fades into the crisp fall harvest season, Ohio’s farmers are firing up their combines for what they hope will be a good crop. Recently, I have been contacted by individuals from the agricultural community regarding their property taxes. The complex formula used by the Ohio Department of Taxation is known as the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV). This is a multifaceted issue, but whether you are a farmer or a member of the community, it is important to understand how these values are calculated.

In 1973, the CAUV was enacted by Ohio voters through an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. This permitted qualifying agricultural land to be taxed at a value based on the farmland's current use rather than at its highest potential use. As a result, values are set well below true market values.

CAUV is determined by a combined analysis of cropping patterns, crop prices, crop yields, non-land production expenses, and interest rates. Every three years, the formula is updated as the new information is arrived at, and the new formula affects farmers in counties during the reappraisal year.

Since 2005, values have increased. The formula includes crop prices from the most recent seven years, eliminates the high and low prices, and averages the remaining five years to produce a stable income flow. As seen by this formula, increased crop prices and historic low interest rates have driven up land values. Today, agricultural land in Ohio has a much higher value than it did three to six years ago.

Despite the increase in CAUV values over the last few years, the program was created to ensure that only agricultural factors were being used to evaluate farmland. According to the Ohio Farm Bureau, CAUV property was on average only 38 percent of market value for property taxation in 2013. Additionally, without CAUV, recent land sales would be a factor in determining the value of the farmland. Ohio has one of the best CAUV formulas in the nation, and it continues to work as intended for Ohio farmers.

The Ohio Department of Taxation’s webpage is a good resource for additional information. You may find an explanation and other statistics at http://www.tax.ohio.gov/real_property/cauv.aspx.

While I believe CAUV is good and in the best interest of Ohio farmers, I recognize the concern I have heard from several of my constituents. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any concerns or suggestions.

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