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

September: Constituent Liaison In-District Office Hours For State Rep. Jena Powell

Monthly In-District Office Hours

Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) will again be sending a constituent liaison from her Columbus office to be in-district this upcoming Monday, September 9th. No appointments are necessary – individuals and families can feel free to show up and talk to the liaison about any government questions or concerns you may have.

“I know government can be hard to navigate alone,” says Powell. “Our office’s constituent liaison does a wonderful job of helping you work through specific issues. If you want to meet with me personally, as always call our office and we’ll set up a time.”

This Monday, September 9th, a constituent liaison will be at the Troy-Miami Public Library in Troy from 10am-11:30am. Rep. Powell’s constituent liaison will then be at the Arcanum Public Library in Arcanum from 12pm-1:30pm on Monday.

To schedule a personal meeting with Rep. Powell, or if you have any state government concerns you can give our office a call at 614-466-8114 or email Rep80@ohiohouse.gov.

Op-Ed: Cut the Bureaucratic Red Tape and Fix the Workforce Shortage

In our community, we know that Ohio is a wonderful place to live. As our Columbus office says when you call in, “It’s a great day to live in Ohio!” 

While we love living in Ohio, there are things we can do to make Ohio a more attractive place to live and work. Right now, we have a workforce shortage in Ohio. One way to help families, businesses, and individuals in our state is through initiating license reciprocity in a way that will cause Ohio’s economic climate to thrive.

License reciprocity says that if you hold an occupational license in another state, you can come and practice that occupation here in Ohio without having to go through the whole education, training, and testing component again. For example, if you are an electrician in Indiana, and you want to work in Ohio and/or move to Ohio, right now you would have to apply for an occupational license in Ohio take a test, pay a fee, and jump through bureaucratic hoops.

The House recently passed temporary license reciprocity for members of the military and their immediate family members. We want to expand this reciprocity for every individual whose license is held in good standing in their state. If we allowed for license reciprocity, that Indiana electrician would need to show Ohio’s licensing authority his Indiana occupational license, and after receiving an Ohio-reciprocal license, would be allowed to practice his trade in Ohio.

Cutting through red tape will allow workers to use their skills, and will encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to move to Ohio. License reciprocity will bring more business and more income to our state. This is something that our office is excited to be researching and working on. If you have any questions, let me know.

-Jena Powell, State Representative

Free Bike Helmets at the Fairs!


Representative Powell will be giving out free bike helmets at both the Miami and Great Darke County Fairs.

At 5pm on Monday, August 12th, stop by the GOP tent at the Miami County Fair. The first 50 children will receive bike helmets (sizes are first come, first serve).

At 5pm on Monday, August 19th, stop by the GOP tent at the Darke County Fair. The first 50 children will receive bike helmets (sizes are first come, first serve).

Rep. Powell looks forward to seeing you and your family!

Constituent Liaison In District

Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) will be sending a constituent liaison from her Columbus office to the district every month to meet with constituents.

“We are here to serve the people of Miami and Southern Darke County,” said Powell. “We understand that government can be challenging and hard to navigate on your own. I’m thrilled to have a constituent liaison here to help you navigate the bureaucratic process we’re fighting so hard to simplify.”

On the first Monday of every month, Representative Powell’s office will hold in-district office hours at the local libraries from 9am-1pm.

On August 5th, a constituent liaison will be at the Troy-Miami County Public Library in Troy. On August 6th, a constituent liaison will be at the Arcanum Public Library in Arcanum.

To schedule a personal meeting with Rep. Powell, or if you have any state government concerns you can give our office a call at 614-466-8114 or email Rep80@ohiohouse.gov.

* Constituent liaison hours is where a liaison from Rep. Powell’s office will be in district to help with government questions and issues. If you wish to meet specifically with Rep. Powell, come to one of her town halls and/or schedule a personal meeting with her.


Op-Ed: What Keeps People Coming Back to the Fair — Community

As you many of you know, I grew up a 4-H kid. All summer I would have a countdown leading up to the great Darke County Fair. I loved everything about it! Showing my sheep, camping, and spending long days in the showing barns.

I haven’t missed a fair in my entire life, because to me the fair is more than a week of fun; it is what our country is so badly missing – tight-knit community that cheers each other on in the good times and the bad. We can look around and see an epidemic of loneliness far reaching throughout the nation, and it is wreaking havoc on society, especially our children.

Many people have tried to solve this problem of loneliness – some have succeeded and others have not. I’ve learned over time that to receive love, you must be open to giving it. In other words, you must give of yourself in the community before you can be part of a community.

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to give. Maybe the talents, time, or resources aren’t available to you and maybe you just don’t know where to go. I understand that, but community is available because community starts with you.

The fair is almost here. Students in our community have worked long days getting animals and projects ready for the fair. For some of the students this is a huge step outside their comfort zone. Whether it’s showing an animal, running for Jr. Fair Board, or entering a cooking competition, they’ve chosen to put themselves out there in public to win or lose. It’s scary. I remember one year my sheep got loose in the arena and ran all over. I was embarrassed and crying by the end. But because of the encouragement of my parents and leaders around me, I tried again and didn’t give up.

For many students the fair is shaping much of their future, and determines how they react and act in challenging situations. Sometimes all one student needs is a bit of encouragement.

If you’re looking for community, the fair is the place to be. But don’t go looking to be a consumer of community. Go and give back! Volunteer at a local booth, encourage the students, sit in the stands and cheer them on, show up with a smile. Community is all around us and fair season is the time to open our eyes and invest time, love, and a smile.

Together let’s make our community great!

-Jena Powell. State Rep for Ohio 80th house district


Looking for a fair schedule or a way to be part? Email or call our office: (614)466-8114 rep80@ohiohouse.gov

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.

“Local lawmakers want to brand pornography as a public health crisis in Ohio”

Full Article from the Dayton Daily News, checkout the article here.

“We are saying enough is enough. We’re tired of the exploitation of women and children in Ohio,” said Powell, a freshman lawmaker from Laura. She ties the use of pornography with the sex trafficking and sexual abuse.

Powell represents Ohio’s 80th House district which covers all of Miami and southern Darke counties.

Powell is joined by 18 legislators who are among the most socially conservative members, including local Republican lawmakers Nino Vitale, R-Urbana; Candice Keller, R-Middletown; Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield; George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.; Bill Dean, R-Xenia, and J. Todd Smith, R-Farmersville.

“The use of pornography in the younger age demographic is becoming more and more common. When you look people around you, you can see the hardships that addiction to pornography have on families,” she said. “This has been a big movement around the United States, to declare it a public health crisis, because that is what it is.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio declined to comment on the resolution since it would not have the force of law even if passes.

Citizens for Community Values, a Cincinnati-based non-profit that in 2004 put an anti-gay marriage measure on the statewide ballot, is backing the resolution.

“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 in a written statement. “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.”

CCV reports that 15 states have passed similar resolutions. CCV said it worked with the National Decency Coalition to help Powell draft the resolution. The National Decency Coalition also campaigns for displaying “In God We Trust” in public classrooms, making sure public schools and libraries have adequate online filtering tools, and keeping internet porn from being accessible to children.

Ohio lawmakers occasionally support laws that crack down on adult businesses, such as strip clubs and pornography.

In 2007, Ohio legislators passed a law that forces strip clubs, peep shows, and other adult businesses to close between midnight and 6 a.m. and institutes a no-touch rule between strippers and patrons.