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Quick hits: Ohio news in brief for Monday, July 20

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, takes off a mask during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “COVID-19/Unemployment Insurance” on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

Portman wants to give companies credit for COVID-19 expenses

(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has introduced a bill to give businesses a refundable tax credit against payroll taxes for 50 percent of COVID-19-related expenses.

The Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit Act would give businesses refunds for expenses related to increased testing, extra cleaning, personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases and reconfiguring workspaces to abide by social distancing guidelines.

“As businesses in Ohio and across America continue reopening and welcoming back employees and consumers, we must ensure the safety and security of everyone involved by incentivizing steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace through a tax credit,” Portman said in a statement.

Dem lawmakers want state to cancel assessments

(The Center Square) – State Reps. Jeffrey Crossman, D-Parma, and Lisa Sobecki, D-Toledo, want to cancel state assessments for the upcoming school year.

House Bill 686, which is pending before the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, would also require state education officials to seek a waiver from the feds for the tests.

“On day 1, our schools, teachers, and students are going to start preparing for the end of year assessments instead of focusing on learning and shoring up on knowledge students learned during this past spring,” Sobecki said in a news release. “Our classrooms need to be focused on learning, not high-stake testing.”

Maharath asks governor to create Ohio Asian-American and Pacific Islander Affairs Commission

(The Center Square) – State Sen. Tina Maharath, D-Canal Winchester, wants Gov. Mike DeWine to issue an executive order to create the Ohio Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affairs Commission.

“At least 350,000 of our fellow Ohioans have Chinese, Asian or Pacific Islander heritage,” Maharath said in a letter to the governor. “History has shown us that when politicians use stigmatizing rhetoric that effectively scapegoats communities of color, they fuel mass hysteria that leads to harm against vulnerable children, families and entire communities.”

Maharath introduced Senate Bill 98 to create the commission. The Senate Finance Committee passed the bill in March.

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