An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal

An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:

Frack Tax: Gov. John Kasich continued his push to increase taxes on oil and gas production, using the proceeds to reduce the state’s income tax rates.

During a year-end interview with reporters, Kasich said he would continue his push to hike severance taxes as part of a larger tax-reform package expected to be unveiled in coming weeks.

“... Modernizing the severance tax keeps us as the lowest severance tax state in the country,” Kasich said. “There is no danger that people are running away. Since we’ve been talking about this, they’ve continued to invest billions.”

He added, “I think there’s an apprehension, if you put this on, are you going to drive somebody away? Are you kidding me? ... I’ve done some foreign travel, down to Houston, and every single time I meet with the industry privately, you know what they say? We should take this and run. But then they get their lobbyists and all these other people and they obscure the issue.”

Mixed Reaction: The Republican leaders of the Ohio House and Senate had somewhat mixed reactions to the governor’s comments.

Outgoing Senate President Tom Niehaus said he expected action on the issue in 2013.

Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder, from Medina, said he didn’t think there was “any question we ultimately will support it. I think that we have a number of questions. ... I certainly want to make sure that what we’re going to see in that area is the kind of growth that will provide jobs in Ohio that will bring corporate headquarters here.”

Asked about the issue after the legislature’s opening session, Republican Senate President Keith Faber offered, “Tax policy is on the agenda. We know the governor is going to ask for tax reform. I think our caucus supports tax reform, but tax reform at a minimum is revenue neutral. ... The devil’s in the details.

Priority: Senate Democrats have unveiled their legislative priorities, and fracking-related issues were included. Under the heading “Energy,” the minority caucus said it would push to “create employment opportunities for graduates of oil and gas training programs and protect Ohioans by requiring the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.”

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