Employers receive more than $1B in state rebates

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 9:27 AM

Sarah Morrison, administrator/CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, discusses the state's $1.1 billion round of premium rebates.

Businesses and public employers in area counties are getting back tens of millions in Ohio worker’s compensation premiums as part of an almost $1.1 billion statewide rebate made possible by better-than-expected returns on an approximately $24.6 billion fund.

“It’s not often the government says to business, here, have some of your money back,” said Andy Schwartz, corporate counsel and co-owner of Lion Inc., which will receive a rebate. The Vandalia maker of apparel and turnout gear for firefighters and other emergency workers hosted the announcement Monday by state officials.

A 12-county area in southwest Ohio including Butler, Clark, Greene, Montgomery and Warren counties will see an influx of more than $135 million.

Area businesses, public employers get BWC rebate

CountyPolicy TypeRebate
ButlerPrivate Employers$25,258,680.14
ButlerPublic Employers$2,700,354.39
ChampaignPrivate Employers$2,814,417.08
ChampaignPublic Employers$430,317.99
ClarkPrivate Employers$8,308,561.24
ClarkPublic Employers$1,601,033.64
ClintonPrivate Employers$2,881,966.38
ClintonPEC - Public Employers$483,936.93
DarkePrivate Employers$3,347,367.37
DarkePublic Employers$454,225.97
GreenePrivate Employers$4,412,142.46
GreenePublic Employers$1,499,028.51
LoganPrivate Employers$3,026,124.61
LoganPublic Employers$652,922.67
MiamiPrivate Employers$8,933,903.12
MiamiPublic Employers$1,000,008.47
MontgomeryPrivate Employers$39,632,279.01
MontgomeryPublic Employers$5,868,034.19
PreblePrivate Employers$1,646,841.55
PreblePublic Employers$341,734.00
ShelbyPrivate Employers$5,876,932.01
ShelbyPublic Employers$578,025.80
WarrenPrivate Employers$12,348,722.69
WarrenPublic Employers$1,363,442.60
   
Not located in OhioPrivate Employers$90,739,628.03
Total Ohio $1,095,186,996.01
SOURCE: Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation

The rebates come with “no strings attached” but recipients are urged to spend the money on safety initiatives that can keep future premiums in check, said Sarah Morrison, administrator/CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

“The employers can use it however they would like to,” Morrison said. “We, of course, are encouraging employers to use that money to invest in their employees; to invest in safety; maybe take some opportunities to put in new equipment: guardrails, those sorts of things.”

» RELATED: Injured workers could see benefit changes under new Ohio bill

The agency sets workers’ comp premiums assuming a 4.5 percent return on its investments, but over the last several years funds yielded 7 percent, Morrison said.

“So we are in a good position that we can return this money to Ohio employers,” Morrison said.

There is no registration or application process for employers. Checks are being mailed automatically, she said. The first rebates went out last week and a staggered mailing schedule should have nearly 180,000 checks all to their destinations by early August.

Stephanie Precht, Dayton Chamber of Commerce’s director of public policy and economic development, said the BWC’s commitment to returning millions to employers drives down business costs and benefits Ohio workers.

“The return of these critical funds allows the Dayton area business community to invest more money back into their local operations and perhaps even more importantly into the local workforce,” she said.

The rebate sum equals roughly two-thirds of an employer’s premium for the 2015 policy year, according to BWC.

» RELATED: Firefighter behind Ohio’s new firefighter workers’ comp law has died

“We charge worker’s compensation to individual accounts whether that be the general fund or the street fund depending on people’s wages, and then we put that money back into those accounts,” said Mark Beckdahl, finance director for the city of Springfield. “It’s a nice return of money for expenses that we had previously.”

Though the rebate figure for each private employer is not public information, Ohio private employers will receive about 88 percent of all rebate dollars. The largest private employer refund in Montgomery County is $3.1 million and $526,641 in Butler County.

» RELATED: New Lebanon couple defrauds workers’ comp system

The largest rebate to an area public employer — about $1.3 million — will go to the city of Dayton. Dayton Public Schools was also high on the list, receiving more than $961,000. This year’s is the third $1 billion rebate since 2013.

Schwartz said maintaining a good safety record promotes not only future rebates from BWC but also better insurance rates from any type of provider.

He said Lion’s rebate is already earmarked for safety initiatives and equipment that could range from ergonomic studies to training to building new equipment that lessens repetitive stress on employees.

“We see that safety is good business. It’s good for our employees and we know it’s good for all our stakeholders when we have a good safety record,” he said.

Retired Florida judge celebrates 87th birthday by swimming from Alcatraz to SF 

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 2:24 AM

The former site of Alcatraz prison.
Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
The former site of Alcatraz prison.(Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

A retired Florida circuit judge celebrated his 87th birthday by swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco’s Aquatic Park, KGO reported.

>> Read more trending news

Bob Beach navigated the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay in 46 minutes on Tuesday, averaging 67 strokes per minute.

“Water has been a big part of my life,” Beach told KGO. 

Beach grew up in Santa Monica, California, and put himself through the University of Tampa by working in a Tampa strip club, the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2008. He graduated from the Stetson College of Law in 1958. He took up swimming in his 30s after quitting chain-smoking cold turkey.

“Swimming makes you emotionally very tranquil,” Beach told KGO.

Swimming from the site of the infamous prison was not lost on the former judge.

“When I send those guys away, I can tell them I relate to them,” he told KGO.

Beach is no stranger to strenuous athletic endeavors. He also hiked up Mount Kilimanjaro and did a parachute jump in Africa. His next swim is scheduled to be under the Golden Gate Bridge, KGO reported.

Beach retired as a circuit court judge in Pinellas County, Florida, in 1993. He said his birthday swim was exhilarating.

“To say that you swam from Alcatraz on your 87th birthday and you made it. Are you kidding me?” Beach told KGO. “I’ll never have a birthday like this.”

Obamacare repeal fails again in Senate; McCain key ‘no’ vote

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 6:32 PM
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:51 AM

McCain votes no on Obamacare repeal

With Sen. John McCain casting a dramatic decisive vote, the Senate early Friday morning narrowly defeated a scaled back bill dismantling the 2010 health law, leaving in question the future of GOP promises to repeal the law known as Obamacare.

SPEAK OUT ON FACEBOOK: Tell us what you think on our Ohio Politics page

The 49-51 defeat – capping hours of drama on the Senate floor - left open the question of whether congressional Republicans can carry through with a key 2016 key promise to repeal the law known as Obamacare. 

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined McCain in voting against the measure. Their votes were less surprising – both have been consistent critics of the GOP proposals. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, opposed the bill and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio supported it. 

The vote – which began shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday – capped a dramatic week that included a press conference late Thursday where three Republican senators – including McCain - essentially pleaded that the Republican legislative package not become law.

Calling the Senate proposal “a fraud” and “a disaster,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was prepared to vote for the Senate package only if House Speaker Paul Ryan promised not to pass make that bill a law. The Senate bill, he said, “was never sold to be the final product” – only as a means to get something passed so that House and Senate negotiators could work out the final details. He was joined McCain and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. 

“Politically, this would be the dumbest thing in history to throw this out there, collapse the individual market and own the problem when Obamacare is collapsing,” Graham said.

Ryan responded hours later, saying “If moving forward requires a conference committee that is something the House is willing to do.” A phone call between Ryan, Johnson and Graham at around 9:45 p.m. Thursday sealed the deal: Graham and Johnson would vote for the Senate plan after all, if only to move the repeal of the bill forward.

McCain, recently diagnosed with brain cancer and recovering from a surgery, resisted.

Providing less suspense to the negotiations, Portman, R-Ohio, announced early Thursday afternoon that he would support the scaled-back bill, which on Capitol Hill quickly was dubbed a “skinny repeal.” Portman said “we need to repeal and replace” Obamacare, saying “this law isn't working for Ohio families and small businesses who've seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket.”

The bill would have repealed for eight years the requirement that employers provide health care, repealed the medical device tax for three years and defunded Planned Parenthood for a year. It would also have ended the requirement that people buy health insurance or pay a fine. 

From the beginning, Republican senators acknowledged that they were only backing the most recent Senate plan to keep the process alive.

“If there was a health-care bill which couldn't get 51 Senate votes, why would lawmakers assume that a conference committee will magically come up with a solution that the Senate will pass?” said Brian Riedl, a former chief economist for Portman and now a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative nonprofit in Washington.

Medical organizations, meanwhile, warned that without the fines for not buying coverage, the already fragile federally subsidized marketplaces established by Obamacare could collapse.

“Eliminating the mandate to obtain coverage only exacerbates the affordability problem that critics say they want to address,” said David O. Barbe, president of the American Medical Association. “Instead, it leads to adverse selection that would increase premiums and destabilize the individual market.”

As Senate GOP leaders struggled to craft their scaled-down package, sullen conservatives already were blaming more-moderate Republicans for the inability to act on campaign promises during the past seven years to scrap Obamacare and devise a more market oriented alternative.

“This process was always going to be difficult—no consensus was built over the past seven years—but this week’s gamesmanship on the Senate floor highlights why conservatives are justifiably frustrated with the obstinacy of their more moderate colleagues,” said Michael Needham, chief executive officer of the Heritage Foundation, another conservative nonprofit in Washington.

STAY IN THE KNOW: Sign up for our Ohio Politics and other newsletters

Because details of the package weren’t made public until late Thursday, it was difficult to calculate how many Americans would lose coverage. Democrats passed around a report suggesting more than 500,000 people in Ohio would lose insurance coverage and premiums in the individual market could rise by $550 per person.

Brown cited an analysis by a former insurance company CEO who is now a Case Western Reserve University professor showing "the so-called 'skinny repeal' would lead to millions losing coverage while driving up insurance costs on middle-income Americans and leaving taxpayers with a larger bill to cover."

OVI checkpoint scheduled for West Chester Twp. tonight

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:40 AM

WEST CHESTER TWP. — The Butler County O.V.I. Task Force will conduct an OVI checkpoint in West Chester Twp. on July 28.

WATCH: Miami Valley's Most Wanted

The checkpoint will be held from 9 p.m. on Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday on Ohio 747 north at Peters Place just south of Mulhauser Road, according to a Butler County O.V.I. Task Force news release.  

LOCAL NEWS: 4 local cases of mothers who killed their infant children

Officers, deputies and troopers will aggressively combat alcohol related crashes by combining the checkpoint with saturation patrols, according to the task force news release.  

The Butler County O.V.I. Task Force is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ohio Department of Public Safety. 

Police: Minnesota man arrested for threatening Social Security employees

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:29 AM

Leonard Booth was arrested Wednesday.
Leonard Booth was arrested Wednesday.

A Minnesota man was arrested Wednesday after threatening employees at a Social Security office, KAAL reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to Capt. John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department, Leonard Booth, 26, walked into the Social Security office at 10:15 a.m. and complained that he was unable to receive benefits. Booth began “acting erratically” and threatened employees with bodily harm, Sherwin told KAAL.

Sherwin was arrested by police and taken to the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center, KAAL reported. During the booking process, Sherwin said officers found Booth in possession of less than a gram of cocaine.

Booth is facing a felony terroristic threats charge and a fifth-degree controlled substance charge, KAAL reported.