Stinziano Pushes Bills to Improve Home Accessibility and to Expemt Textbooks from State Sales Tax

COLUMBUS, Ohio State grants would be offered to improve accessibility in their homes for senior citizens and the disabled, under bipartisan legislation promoted in the Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, college textbooks would be exempted from the state's sales and use tax, under separate legislation getting discussion in the Ohio House.

"I encourage my colleagues to support these common sense measures," state Rep. Michael Stinziano, the Columbus a Democrat who sponsored both measures.

Home renovation investments are needed to promote independent living because older Americans often occupy homes that were constructed in earlier decades when physical accessibility was not a priority for homebuilders or homeowners, said Stinziano, one of the sponsors of the proposed Home Accessibility Grant Program.

The legislation, offered by state Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, and Stinziano, would provide state grants up to $5,000 for building, purchasing or remodeling homes to incorporate accessibility and universal design features.

"Homes that incorporate universal designs allow more senior citizens and disabled Ohioans to live longer, more safely and comfortably in their homes," Stinziano said. "Our proposal creates an incentive for homeowners and contractors to incorporate the universal designs that will make Ohio homes more livable, comfortable and safer for independent living."

The bill is pending before the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee where Rep. Stinziano offered sponsor testimony.

Regarding the proposed sales tax exemption for college textbooks, 27 states currently exempt textbooks from their sales taxes in order to make higher education more affordable for students.

The prices of tuition, fees, and course materials for college students have increased in the United States during the past several decades much faster than inflation. The College Board estimates that the average college student spends nearly $1,200 a year on books and supplies for class, Stinziano said. 

My proposal, by exempting a costly required purchase from the sales tax, would help to make college more affordable for students and families across Ohio. To be eligible for a sales tax exemption, students must be enrolled in an Ohio college or university and the textbook purchased must be required by a course the student in enrolled in.

Students can meet these requirements by simply showing a vendor a student ID and a list of required materials for their courses.

The legislation is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee where Rep. Stinziano and Rep. Duffey, the joint sponsor of the bill, will offer sponsor testimony on Wednesday.