Ohio to see changes in laws
MARIETTA — As Ohio heads into 2019, several new laws in the state could have an impact for residents of Washington County.
Changes in child support payments, a minimum wage increase, violent offender registries and tax law changes to spousal support payments are all soon going into effect.
Child support changes
For the first time in 25 years, state lawmakers have updated the guidelines that determine child support payments.
Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, said the updated payment charts and decrease in payments for those sharing the responsibility of raising the child should be met well by both parents involved.
“It’s fair for both parties,” he said.
According to the bi-partisan backed legislation, the new law updates the economic tables used in determining the amount of the payment and gives a 10 percent decrease in payment for those who care for the child more than 90 days a year.
“This is well past due,” Thompson said. “We hoped we can improve the situation with better collections to ensure parents in need get their money. This is a big issue for Ohio.”
Violent offender database
Another new law for 2019 is intended to keep citizens safe by giving authorities the ability to know where violent offenders live in their area.
The law was given the name “Sierah’s Law” after 20-year-old Sierah Joughin’s 2016 kidnapping and murder by a convicted violent offender in Fulton County. Washington County Sheriff Capt. Brian Rhodes said the new database of violent offenders could help with the protection of the county’s citizens.
“If a violent attack happened, we could use the database to see (the violent offenders) that live nearby. It will be a lead to follow up on,” he said. “If a violent offender moved from Charleston, W.Va, to here, we probably wouldn’t even know they lived in the county (before the new database).”
Minimum wage increase
An increase in the minimum wage will begin at the start of the year and change the finances of both employees and employers.
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, in 2019, employers that gross more than $314,000 will have to pay an extra 25 cents per hour to meet the new state minimum wage of $8.55 an hour. Tipped employees will also see a 15 cent increase to their hourly wage, giving them $4.30 an hour.
Alphonso Johnson, 27, of Marietta, a student at Marietta College and bartender at Harmar Tavern, said the minimum wage increase won’t have much of an impact on service workers like himself.
“It just doesn’t cut it,” he said. “The (hourly earnings for employees that receive tips) just pay for our taxes. We wouldn’t see any difference unless the change was significant, like at least a dollar an hour.”
Johnson said he makes good money bartending, but it would be nice to have a more stable income.
“Tips are a perk for this job, but states like California are making their minimum wage $15 an hour plus tips… If they are with it, why can’t we be? This is a job like anyone else’s,” he said.
Spousal support tax changes
In addition to changes to state law, an upcoming federal law will also modify the taxes for those paying and receiving spousal support in Ohio and elsewhere.
The old law, that was on the books for 75 years, allowed people paying support to claim it as an expense on their taxes, while people receiving the payments were required to claim it as income. The new law that takes effect on Jan. 1, won’t allow payers of support to claim it as a tax deduction and those that receive the payment won’t have to claim it as income.
Marietta divorce attorney Anita Newhart said the changes will not only affect the people giving and receiving the support, but the amount of money the federal government will receive in taxes.
“(The government) wanted to shift the tax burden to the higher earner,” she said.
Newhart said the new spousal support tax laws along with the loss of the deduction for dependents is going to make the tax season a confusing one.
“People are going to be very surprised,” she said.
* Child support: Updated economic tables and 10 percent decrease in payments for those parents who care for the child more than 90 days will go into affect March 28.
* Violent offender database: On Jan. 1, a new database will enable law enforcement officials to know the addresses of people with violent crime convictions in their jurisdiction.
* Minimum wage increase: Starting Jan. 1 , an increase of 25 cents to $8.55 an hour for non-tipped employees, a 15 cent increase to $4.30 an hour for tipped employees.
* Spousal support: Starting Jan. 1, people required to pay support will not be allowed to deduct money for taxes, people receiving money will no longer have to claim it as income.
* Revenge porn: On March 21, it will become illegal to re-transmit any pornographic images of a person without their consent.
* Abortion: On March 21, it becomes criminal to perform a dismemberment abortion.
* Reagan Tokes law: Named after murdered college student Reagan Tokes, the law enables Department of Corrections officials to keep inmates longer than their sentences if they haven’t shown any rehabilitative tendencies or have been a problem inmate. The law goes into affect March 21.
* Sexual imposition: The new law increases the penalties for people who are convicted of or pleaded guilty to several specified sex crimes after their third offense after March 21.