Ohio Republicans' Agenda Includes Estate Tax Repeal

 
Despite his state's budget shortfall of as much as $10 billion, incoming House Speaker William Batchelder is looking to eliminate Ohio's estate tax this year, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Batchelder became speaker after Republicans won the House majority away from Democrats in November. Ohio's estate tax brings in $300 million a year for the state. It applies to properties worth more than $338,333, making it easily the nation's broadest estate tax. "It is important that those who have built a business in Ohio from the ground up have the dignity to retire in Ohio without burdening their children and grandchildren with excessive taxes," Batchelder said.

Colorado Governor-elect John Hickenlooper has excited labor activists and angered Republicans with his choice to lead the state's Department of Labor and Employment, the Denver Post reports. Hickenlooper has picked Ellen Golombek , a longtime Colorado labor leader who also has worked for Planned Parenthood. The contrasting reactions reflect the difficult balancing act that Democratic governors of Colorado face. Bill Ritter, Hickenlooper's predecessor, disappointed both business backers and labor allies at various points in his administration. Hickenlooper also named Reeves Brown, a Republican, to lead the Department of Local Affairs.

One of Alabama's top Democrats is going to work for the state's new Republican governor, the Associated Press reports. Incoming Governor Robert Bentley has appointed Seth Hammett to direct the Alabama Development Office, the state agency responsible for job creation efforts. Hammett, a 32-year veteran of the Alabama legislature, was speaker of the House of Representatives before opting not to run for reelection this year.

Newly empowered Republicans in the New Hampshire legislature are looking to reverse a benefit granted to local government workers by their Democratic predecessors, the  Concord Monitor reports. In 2008, the legislature approved a law that required local governments to give their workers tenure-based pay increases even when the workers' contracts had expired. Labor groups view the rule as a key protection for public employees who lack negotiating leverage because they're not allowed to strike. Many Republicans, though, view it as an expensive mandate on local governments. Republicans now hold veto-proof majorities in both houses of the New Hampshire legislature, meaning that if they stay united they could eliminate the law without the signature of Democratic governor  John Lynch.

Rick Snyder already has taken the oath of office as governor of Michigan, but he still doesn't know how big his first paycheck will be, the Associated Press reports. He's said he'll keep less than the official salary of $159,300, which itself is 10 percent lower than it was before a pay cut last year-top elected officials had their pay slashed by 10 percent across the board. Snyder, a wealthy venture capitalist and former executive at the Gateway computer company, spent almost $6 million of his own money on his campaign for governor. While Snyder is one of several governors who are accepting smaller salaries as a symbolic show of austerity, whatever pay cut he decides on will only make a very small dent in Michigan's $1.7 billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
 
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