State budget targets taxes on jukeboxes, booze in ice cream

The two-year state budget bill lays out how Ohio will spend more than $130 billion on important issues like education, prisons, health care and more. But tucked within the 4,500-page bill are some odds and ends that don’t seem to have much to do with budgeting.

Here is a quick list of six weird items in the budget bill, at least for now:

1. Jukeboxes. Plays on digital jukeboxes, found in bars and restaurants, would not be subject to the state sales tax. Gov. John Kasich vetoed a similar provision in another bill in January.

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2. No betel nut on campus. Betel nut is chewed by millions across the globe, particularly in Asia and eastern Africa. In March, public health and police officials became concerned when several high school students were found dazed and disoriented after chewing it and they found it was easy to buy the nut at international markets around Columbus, according to news reports. The budget bill would ban the use or possession of betel nut on K-12 school grounds statewide.

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3. Premium cigars. Tax on premium cigars would be capped at 50 cents per cigar. Currently, cigars are taxed at 17.5 percent of wholesale price — the same as other tobacco products such as chew and snuff. "The cigar industry has always been pushing for some sort of cap," said Jeff Stephens of the American Cancer Society, Ohio chapter. It is unclear how much more or less would be collected in tobacco taxes. Stephens added that he is also concerned that lawmakers are backing a 60 percent cut in state money for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.

4. Foreign athletes on F-1 visas. Students from other countries who attend Ohio boarding schools would be allowed to participate in interscholastic athletics on the same basis as Ohio kids. The provision, added to the budget by the Ohio Senate, would block districts or the Ohio High School Athletic Association from implementing rules against this. Current OHSAA bylaws block F-1 visa holders from participating in high school sports. Exchange students on J-1 visas are allowed to participate under certain circumstances.

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5. Sunscreen. School districts would not be allowed to require a doctor's note in order to apply sunscreen to a student. Yes, this is a requirement in some schools since sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter medication. Several states are passing laws to ditch this regulation at school.

6. Boozy ice cream. Certain liquor permitholders would be allowed to manufacture and sell ice cream with 0.5 percent to 6 percent alcohol by volume.

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