Sponsor Testimony on H.B. 196 – Unjust [501(c)(3)] Fitness Center Tax Act

What is H.B. 196? H.B. 196 corrects a 1992 error that mistakenly added sales tax to non-profit fitness center memberships here in Ohio. This Act will solve this problem by exempting 501(c)(3) fitness center memberships from sales tax, saving Ohioans $10 million dollars.

This Tuesday, Representative Powell gave sponsor testimony in the Ways & Means Committee. Watch her testimony here:

Good Afternoon Chairman Merrin, Vice Chair LaRe, Ranking Member Rogers, and members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide sponsor testimony this afternoon on House Bill 196. This legislation will align Ohio with nearly every other state by removing the sales tax burden from non-profit fitness memberships.
This issue first began in 1992, when these memberships were seemingly accidentally included in a tax code revision. This change increased the tax burden of Ohioans seeking a healthier lifestyle by taxing facilities like the YMCA and Jewish Community Centers for the first time. Ohio became one of only five states in the nation to tax non-profit fitness memberships.
At the time the mistake was discovered, many legislators on both sides of the aisle opposed this new tax. My bill would remove this tax and return Ohio non-profit fitness memberships to full tax exempt status, as they should be as 501(c)(3)s. Taxing memberships is unjust and runs contrary to the YMCAs’ charitable nonprofit purpose. The state exempts other 501(c)(3)s from sales tax, and why should non-profit fitness centers be any different.
Eliminating this mistaken sales tax on non-profits will amount to a tax cut of less than $10 million, which is a small sum for government when compared to the over $23 million in financial assistance to participate in programs that the YMCA provides to all Ohioans.
As a non-profit, YMCAs are not like a for-profit fitness center. YMCAs also provide essential programs to Ohio’s communities, including:
1. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which saves over $2000 per person in healthcare costs;
2. Early childhood education, before and after school care, and summer day camp. The YMCA is Ohio’s and the nation’s largest provider of child care, and our quality programs help children be Kindergarten ready, and prevent the “summer slide.”
Every one of these programs is an investment being made by these community organizations and is an investment that will improve Ohioans lives while saving the state resources. Non-profit organizations operate for the good of the public and provide needed services to more than 750,000 individuals well beyond access to a weight room and treadmills. These organizations provide an incredible array of services and opportunities to our communities.
In Ohio, non-profit gyms play a critical role in helping keep our citizens healthy.
As a state, we do not tax non-profits due to their 501(c)(3) status. It is a mistake that we currently tax memberships to non-profit fitness centers such as the YMCA and Jewish Community Centers. HB 196 will solve this problem by exempting non-profit fitness centers memberships from Ohio sales tax.
Thank you for your support and consideration. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
– Jena Powell

Sponsor & Proponent Testimony for HR 180

On Tuesday, Representative Jena Powell presented sponsor testimony on House Resolution 180 which will declare pornography a public health crisis that perpetuates human trafficking and the abuse of women and minors.
Below please find Representative Powell’s testimony. 11 individuals came to give proponent testimony, and 6 submitted written proponent testimony. For the video of the Health Committee’s 9/17/19 meeting, please start the video at 30 minutes in for Rep. Powell’s testimony.

Chairman Merrin, Vice Chair Manning, Ranking Member Boyd, and Members of the Health Committee, thank you for allowing me to present sponsor testimony today on H.R. 180, a resolution to declare that pornography is creating a public health crisis in relation to the increase in sex trafficking, abuse of women, and minors.
Ohio is the fourth worst state in the United States for human sex trafficking (this is according to statistics compiled by the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the U.S. Marshalls Office).

• Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the Trafficking in Persons report, which is created annually by the State Department to document human trafficking in the year prior. He stated, “The United States is the number one consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.” At the heart of the human trafficking trade in America is simple economics: Supply and demand.
• Pornography is integral to prostitution and coerced sexual acts, and over half of sex trafficking victims report that they were required to learn and perform according to pornographic media. Please refer if you wish to the study in front of you conducted by psychologist Melissa Farley. There is also a study in front of you from the Northwestern University Law Review discussing how human traffickers force those they have trafficked into pornographic videos as a way to entrap them.
According to a 2016 Barna Group survey, 64% of young people (aged 13-24) proactively seek out pornography weekly.

It is crucial to understand pornography as a form of violence against women. Mainstream pornography consists of socially sanctioned acts of direct violence against women.
• An analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos found that 88% of the scenes contain physical violence against women and in 95% of these scenes, the woman displays a positive or neutral reaction to the violence. You can find the scholarly article which has the results of these analyses in the stack of articles we passed out to you.
UNICEF.org says that pornography increases the demand for commercialized sex, especially with underage girls and boys.

According to the American Psychological Association, the earlier a boy is exposed to pornography the more likely he is to want power over women, and the later a man is exposed to pornography the more likely he is to engage in playboy behavior. Both having negative impact on our community. Pornography shrinks the brain and the brain reacts to pornography similarly to how it reacts to cocaine. You can see the statistics and research found on a University of Nebraska Lincoln chart.
We live in a time of a pornography epidemic, where young children are exposed and addicted to pornography thus causing a myriad of problematic sexual activity (feel free to look at the Times article in the stack which discusses the problems young men are having with ED due to porn), low self-esteem (for both boys and girls as referenced in multiple articles in front of you), negatively impacting brain development (see the Your Brain on Porn article for information on dozens of studies by neuroscientists and scholars about how pornography affects brain development and behavior), etc.
• Men who watch pornography are more likely to believe that women want to be raped, and to include violent acts of aggression and physical violence against women during sex, having been conditioned by pornography to believe these acts are normal and that women like to be choked, raped, etc. Please see the Pornography as a Public Health Issue article we have given you.
• This devaluation of women and children is because of the fact that “when neurologists looked at their brain scans, men’s brains reacted to women as if they were objects, not people.” This is a quote from Dr. Foubert, whose article on the public health harms of pornography is in front of you. His studies, and others, have shown that viewing pornography increases sexual aggression. You may see the article from the Journal of Communication for additional support.

Overall, the factors which compel men and women to enter the pornography industry are the same factors that place individuals at risk for human trafficking. Poverty, abuse, homelessness, and a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse.
• If you go online to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or to view sex trafficking data collected by the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, you will see these factors listed as risk factors for trafficking.
• Please also reference the Public Health Harms of Pornography summary of peer-reviewed studies and papers

This resolution will not outlaw pornography – this resolution is bringing awareness to the negative impact that pornography has on society, through its contributions to the demand for trafficked persons, violence against women, men, and minors, and its destruction of the brains as well as families of those individuals who are caught in its addicting web.
We want to promote human flourishing and a health society – we must recognize that this includes pushing against pornography and human trafficking for children and families. This resolution will declare that we in the Ohio House of Representatives, are against human trafficking and the sexual mistreatment of our fellow human beings whether they be women, men, or children. Let us by this resolution encourage families, churches, and businesses on a local level to promote education, prevention, research, and policy changes to confront the proliferation of pornography and human trafficking.

Today is the day to stand up and say enough is enough against the exploitation of women and children in our communities.
I’m happy to take any questions from the committee at this time.

Representative Jena Powell
Ohio’s 80th House District

NEW BILL: Tax Code Streamlining and Correction Act

Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is joint-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Derek Merrin (R-) to streamline the Ohio tax code. At their direction, the Legislative Service Commission identified errors in the tax code, of which 125 are corrected by HB 197. HB 197 fixes typographical errors, incorrect or non-existent cross references, obsolete sections, awkward organization, and generic references to the effective date of an amendment.

“Thrilled to be working on tax policy here in Ohio,” says Powell. “The tax code is confusing, and HB 197 will help clean up some of the mistakes in the code that make it hard to read. This bill will make it easier for businesses and families to thrive in our state.”

The bill has had its first hearing in Ways and Means Committee. You can read the bill and see the analysis at www.ohiohouse.gov if you search legislation for HB 197. As always, if you have state government concerns you can give our office a call at 614-466-8114 or email Rep80@ohiohouse.gov.

News Release: Ohio Resolution Declares Pornography a Public Health Crisis

Article from  Citizens for Community Value

Sponsored by Rep. Jena Powell, resolution also highlights the connection of pornography with human trafficking.

COLUMBUS — Representative Jena Powell and 18 co-sponsors have introduced a powerful Ohio House resolution to declare pornography a public health crisis. Along with highlighting the serious hardships pornography causes for men, women and children, the resolution emphasizes the connections between pornography and human trafficking.

A recent study ranked Ohio the “4th worst state in the nation for human sex trafficking.” As lawmakers and law enforcement work to end the exploitation of Ohio’s most vulnerable, the resolution brings to light the importance of protecting children from pornography, and enforcing existing obscenity laws.

“The #MeToo movement has awakened America to the epidemic of sexual assault, human trafficking, and the objectification of women,” said Aaron Baer, President of Citizens for Community Values. “But any serious conversation about ending a toxic sexual culture must include an honest assessment of the harms of pornography. Pornography is more widely available than ever before, and until we get serious about enforcing our existing obscenity laws and ensuring children aren’t exposed to porn, we will never end the exploitation.”

If the resolution passes in the House, Ohio will join at least 15 other states who have passed similar resolutions: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

Citizens for Community Values and the National Decency Coalition worked with Representative Jena Powell to draft the resolution. Eighteen other House members have signed on as cosponsors—Rep. John Becker, Rep. Louis Blessing, Tom Brinkman, Rep. Bill Dean, Rep. Tim Ginter, Rep. Diane Grendell, Rep. Ron Hood, Rep. Candice Keller, Rep. Kyle Koehler, Rep. George Lang, Rep. Riordan McClain, Rep. Derek Merrin, Rep. Tracy Richardson, Rep. Craig Riedel, Rep. Mark Romanchuk, Rep. Todd Smith, Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, and Rep. Nino Vitale.

You can read the resolution online here.



Meet Our Summer Interns


This summer we have some amazing interns in our Columbus office. From research, to joining me at committee and session. They are getting experience at the Statehouse as we fight for our community. Follow along and meet the summer team!


Meet Austin:

“My name is Austin Lucous, and I am eager to work with Representative Jena Powell in serving Miami and Darke counties! I am currently beginning my junior year at Wright State University studying political science, and I am a proud 2017 graduate of Milton-Union High School in West Milton, Ohio. I began my journey in politics my senior year of high school when I campaigned for Rob Portman for US Senate. From there, I campaigned for Steve Huffman for State Senate, and finally, I campaigned for Representative Powell in her run for State Representative! When I’m not working on a campaign, I enjoy going out to eat with friends, playing tennis, and learning French. Living in the district my entire life, I am thrilled to work for my community and you!”


Meet Cameron:

“Hello my name is Cameron Haught, and I have interning in Representative Powell’s office since January. I am currently attending Clark State Community College in Springfield with plans on attending Wright State University next year to major in political science. While going to school and interning in Columbus, I work full time at Kroger in Springfield. In my free time, I enjoy exercising, and watching the Cincinnati Reds.”


Meet Mason:

“Hello, I am Mason Gordon and I began interning with Representative Powell in May of 2019. I am from Wayne Lakes, I went to Franklin Monroe High School and Edison State Community College, and I am an incoming political science major at the University of Dayton. I spend my free time with my family and playing soccer.”





Looking for a fall internship? Contact our office to submit an application.

As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to our office at 614-466-8114 or email Rep80@ohiohouse.gov.




FM Junior Baseball & Softball Celebrates Opening Day

On May 4th, FM Jr. Baseball & Softball opened the 2019 season with an opening day celebration. The day was headlined by special guests Jena Powell, Mora Menzie, Jeff Kniese and Eric Fee. The day started with a town parade of team floats escorted by Pitsburg Fire Department, followed by opening ceremony, which included messages from Jena Powell and Jeff Kniese.

Eric Fee led with prayer and Mora Menzie performed the National Anthem and there were special baseball and softball first pitches completed to officially kick off the season. The remainder of the day included opening day games, chicken and pork chop barbeque and bake sale and special activities for the kids.

Jena Powell is serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives after being elected in 2018. She is the youngest legislature serving in the General Assembly and has quickly become one of the Republican Party’s most up-and-coming, dynamic individuals.

Earlier this year Jena was named to the Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 list for Law & Policy across the United States. Jena delivered a brief message aimed towards encouraging a focus on family and community and pursuing opportunities to serve and make a positive impact in our communities and organizations.

Jeff Kniese is currently serving as CEO and President of Greenville Federal Bank. Greenville Federal has achieved the highest rating possible from Bauer Financial for 7 years in a row thus distinguishing itself as one of the strongest banks across the region. Greenville Federal is a multi-year sponsor for FM Jr. Baseball and Softball and is very active in Darke County local communities and serves numerous non-profit organizations.

Kniese spoke to the importance of prioritizing our kids and families and investing in organizations to position them for positive influence in our communities.

Mora Menzie is a 6th grader at Arcanum, daughter to Jake and Sara Menzie. Dating back several years Mora competed in the Kids Got Talent show and was selected among 20 finalists at the Arnold Classic talent show. More recently she has been performing the National Anthem for numerous events across the Midwest including USA Track and Field, Ohio State men’s basketball, NCAA Women’s DII National Championship and OHSAA Girls Basketball State Finals.

Eric Fee has been involved and served our community as volunteer member for Red Cross, Darke County Chamber, Darke County Mental Health, State of the Heart Hospice, Empowering Darke County Youth and is also a member of Kiwanis and EUM Church. Eric runs Tribute Funeral Homes and their goal is to serve people and their families.

“2019 FM Jr. Baseball and Softball Opening Day was very memorable for all involved,” said Kyle Cable. “We would like to extend extra thanks to our special guests Jena, Mora, Jeff and Eric, as well as the dozens of volunteers it took to make this day happen. A big “thank you to Bach to Rock” for letting us use their sound system. All these folks have been very gracious with their time and resources to help our kids and families. We are looking forward to a great year.”

Full article can be found below:




To watch the full video regarding H.B. 62 follow the link below.


“I’m all about infrastructure, but the way we are doing it is not fiscally conservative. The only responsible thing to do was vote no.”

Jena Powell invites student to State of the State Address

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Jena Powell (R-District 80) announced that her guests for Gov. DeWine’s State of the State Address will be Piqua High School student Mason Darner and his government teacher Troy Ouhlt.

The State of the State will take place Tuesday on the Ohio House Floor. Each state representative receives the option to invite two guests to join them on the House floor to attend the State of the State.

Rep. Powell decided her choice would be individuals from her district, and she is “thrilled to have Mason and Mr. Ouhlt joining me at the State of the State.”

Powell said “government is all about the people, and I’m excited to have community members joining me.”

Powell’s office welcomes constituents to reach out with any questions or thoughts and to visit the Columbus office anytime. For more information call 614-466-8114 or email rep80@ohiohouse.gov.



Local lawmaker expresses concern over potential increased gas tax

Jena Powell, who was recently elected to the Ohio House representing part of Darke County and all of Miami County talked to News Center 7’s Jim Otte about her feelings toward a potential increase in the state’s gas tax.